NEW YORK — American Pharoah’s sweep of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes for horse racing’s first Triple Crown since 1978 was selected the sports story of the year Thursday in an annual vote conducted by The Associated Press.

Eighty-two ballots were submitted from U.S. editors and news directors. Voters were asked to rank the top five sports stories of the year, with the first-place story receiving five points, the second-place story four points and so on.

American Pharoah’s Triple Crown win received 317 points and 43 first-place votes.

The No. 2 story, the “Deflategate” scandal, had 191 points and 13 first-place votes.


In the 37 years since Affirmed became the 11th Triple Crown winner – the longest drought in the sport’s history – an unlucky 13 horses had won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness only to fail at the Belmont Stakes.

But American Pharoah took the lead from the start and kept extending it. The bay colt with the unusually short tail won by 51/2 lengths for jockey Victor Espinoza, trainer Bob Baffert and owner Ahmed Zayat.


The New England Patriots routed the Indianapolis Colts 45-7 in the AFC championship game Jan. 18, but the on-field action was soon overshadowed by “Deflategate.”

The NFL spent more than $3 million for an investigation by Ted Wells, whose 243-page report found it was “more probable than not” that two Patriots employees deliberately released air from game balls.

Tom Brady was suspended for four games but a judge lifted the ban a week before the season.


In an early-morning raid of a Swiss luxury hotel May 27, the U.S. government started a chain reaction that would take down soccer leaders around the world.

The 47-count indictment for racketeering and bribery was the beginning. By year’s end, FIFA’s president, Sepp Blatter, and his one-time likely successor, Michel Platini, were suspended for eight years by the sport’s governing body.


Too small, not athletic enough. That was the knock both on the Golden State Warriors and their star, Stephen Curry. Instead, the sweet-shooting Warriors won their first NBA title in four decades behind the league’s MVP, beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Turns out Golden State can play better. The Warriors opened this season with a 24-0 start.


No one had gone wire to wire at the Masters in nearly four decades, but that victory was just the start for 21-year-old Jordan Spieth. He won the first two legs of a Grand Slam, halfway to becoming the first modern player to complete the feat.

The only other men since 1960 to get that far were Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, and none came as close to the third leg as Spieth, who was tied for the British Open lead with two holes to play before finishing one shot out of a playoff. He was also in the final group of the PGA Championship, where he was runner-up by three shots to Jason Day.


In tennis, a player was even closer to completing a Grand Slam. Serena Williams was two victories from becoming the first since Steffi Graf in 1988 to win the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open in the same year. But in one of the sport’s biggest upsets, unseeded Roberta Vinci stunned the 21-time major champion in the semifinals in New York.


Four years after a heartbreaking loss to Japan in the Women’s World Cup final, Carli Lloyd and her U.S. teammates made sure there would be no repeat in the rematch. Lloyd scored a hat trick in the first 16 minutes as the Americans won 5-2 in Canada for their first title since 1999.


Kansas City was one win from a world championship in 2014, yet wasn’t considered a favorite in 2015. Its players knew better and came from behind again in Game 5 of the World Series to beat the New York Mets in 12 innings for a first title since 1985.


Just two days after Missouri’s football players threatened to boycott a game, the president of the university system stepped down. Tensions about race and other student welfare issues had simmered for weeks before the athletes joined the protest in support of a graduate student holding a hunger strike.

As defensive end Charles Harris put it: “Let this be a testament to all of the athletes across the country that you do have power.”


The first College Football Playoff did exactly what it was supposed to, awarding a championship chance to a squad that seemed eliminated from title contention after an early-season loss and whose presence in the new four-team bracket was widely debated.

Behind third-string quarterback Cardale Jones, Ohio State upset No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Oregon to kick off a new era in the sport.