NIL is a brand-new ballgame to be sure, and we’re all still figuring out the rules and regulations right now, but Olivia Dunne is the college athlete who is winning it. The LSU class of ’24 gymnast is poised to become the first Name, Image and Likeness generated millionaire.
That’s right, Livvy Dunne, a decorated gymnast who has competed alongside Olympian level talents like Simone Biles, Jade Carey, and Suni Lee, should hit that very lucrative mark first, and not somebody from one of the two revenue sports (football, men’s basketball).
Make no mistake about it, eventually a football player (almost certainly a quarterback, most likely from a SEC program) will start making the most money off the NCAA’s midsummer NIL ruling that permitted collegiate athletes to legally profit from their name, image or likeness.
Or it could be a men’s basketball one-and-done superstar (almost certainly a Duke or Kentucky 5-star McDonald’s All-American). But for right now, it’s Olivia Dunne time, although Fresno State college basketball twins Haley and Hanna Cavinder are certainly giving her a run for her money.
Livvy has an ultra-enormous, hyper-engaged following on social media: over 1.3 million followers on Instagram, 18 thousand on Twitter and of course, 4.5 million on Tik Tok. Her world-class gymnastics skills got her a full ride to Louisiana State and put her on the map.
However, it’s the photos and videos that she posts on social media which have made her an internet sensation and web celebrity.
— Olivia Dunne (@livvydunne) July 1, 2021
This is the NIL route to money-making for college athletes, and Livvy Dunne has signed with a vegan based sports energy drink/powder (the same one that signed Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler).
She’s also capitalized on the insane craze that is ubiquitous athleisure wear, signing with a company that makes leggings/yoga pants.
According to a Newsweek piece on Olivia Dunne: “Several athletes have begun working with companies similar to Opendorse to become paid influencers.”
She knows what she’s doing, and we should definitely give her credit for optimizing her potential social capital, and the marketing and branding opportunities that accompany it.
So cheers to the New Jersey native and college sophomore who is really winning the game that is capitalism right now.
YOU GO! Olivia Dunne. You go on and get yours!
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Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Sports Bank. He’s also the author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” and “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”
He’s written for numerous publications, including the New York Daily News, Sports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune. He regularly appears on NTD News and WGN News Now. Follow the website on Twitter and Instagram.