Highest NIL Earners: Students with Successful Deals

Top athletes and 4.0 students aren’t the only ones who can get scholarships and other perks. With college athletes finally having a say over their name, image, likeness (NIL) and being able to earn money, there have been several huge deals and partnerships. Here are just some of the highest NIL earners—students who are profiting off their skills and name—plus some tips for promoting yourself as a college athlete.

Highest NIL Earners

  1. Bronny James, son of LeBron James and USC basketball player, is valued at $5.9 million. He is currently partnered with Klutch Sports Group and stars in a Fast X commercial.
  2. Angel Reese, an LSU basketball player, is ranked #1 in College Women’s NIL
    It's a myth that only top athletes and 4.0 students get scholarships

    Flickr user Steve Allen

    Basketball. She earns an estimated $1.7 million per year, with upcoming deals for Airbnb, Reebok, and Tampax.

  3. Flau’jae Johnson, another LSU basketball player, has an NIL valuation of $1.1 million. She has a deal with JBL Audio and will star alongside her teammate, Angel Reese, for Tampax and Amazon commercials.
  4. Oregon’s quarterback Bo Nix is the first college athlete to partner with Google Shopping.
  5. TCU basketball player Haley Cavinder has a valuation of $852 thousand. She has deals with her twin, Hanna, for Leaf Trading Cards and Caktus AI.
  6. Hercy Miller, before even entering the college basketball program at Tennessee State University, signed a $2 million endorsement deal with Web Apps America. He currently plays for the Louisville Cardinals.
  7. Freshman quarterback Arch Manning has a multi-year deal with Panini, with an annual valuation of $2.8 million.
  8. With a valuation of $783 thousand, Caitlin Clark has a multi-year NIL deal with Gatorade and was the first college athlete to sign a deal with State Farm.
  9. UCONN’s Paige Bueckers is the headliner, alongside 15 other athletes, for Team Dunkin’.
  10. Olivia Dunne, an LSU gymnast, signed a deal with activewear brand Vuori for over $1 million.

How Do Student-Athletes Make Money Off of Their NIL?

The big deals for a student’s NIL usually come in the way of endorsements. Student-athletes will, in exchange for money, promote the brand on social media and in other marketing materials. They essentially become a face of the brand.

Some businesses have smaller, but ongoing marketing campaigns where they actively recruit brand ambassadors. For example, in South Florida, there are fitness centers that are offering $500 to University of Miami football players if they endorse the gym.

READ MORE >> Should College Athletes be Paid?

Students can also make money through selling memorabilia that features their name, image, or autograph. This can be done locally or on a larger scale online. Some several nonprofits and businesses are offering scholarships for NIL.

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4 Ways To Make Money Off Your NIL

If you are a student-athlete and want to make the list of the highest NIL earners, there are a number of ways you can start earning cash. However, it is extremely important to always follow the rules put forth by your college and the NCAA. Failing to follow these regulations can result in serious repercussions. Even if you aren’t a big-name star at your college or high school, these tips will help you make money off your image.

1. Grow Your Social Media Presence

First and foremost, athletes interested in profiting off their NIL need to have a strong social media presence. This can include X (formerly Twitter), Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and more, but Instagram and TikTok generally see the highest virality. No matter the platform, posting interesting, relevant content is the way to go. You also need to be engaged with your audience.

Once you have a stronger pull, some businesses will likely reach out to you for endorsement deals. Some will be better than others, and a number may not even be worth your time. You need to be able to weed out the ones that won’t advance your brand. This route will hopefully lead to other opportunities, affiliations, and sponsored posts.

2. Create or Participate in Media Content

YouTube and podcasts are another fantastic way student-athletes can put money in the bank. You could have your own YouTube channel or podcast, but you can also charge to appear on others’. Just be sure you’re researching the channel before you agree to appear—you want to make sure it aligns with your brand and values and won’t put you in a negative light.

3. Talk to Businesses

Of course, you don’t have to wait for businesses to come to you for endorsements—you can reach out to them! Talking to local and online companies that are relevant to your brand and NIL may lead to some extra dollars and ongoing partnerships. Local endorsements, too, can help the business in question as it shows they are actively a part of the community.

4. And More!

There are plenty of other ways to make money off your NIL. Here are some further tips and suggestions:

  • Sell autographs. How much you can sell these for will depend on your stardom and abilities.
  • Sell merchandise featuring your name, image, or likeness.
  • Start a website to feature ads, merchandise, and other products.
  • Begin a training camp.

No matter which of these routes you take, however, it is highly recommended that you have a social media presence to go with them! It has proven to be the most vital step you can take to find success when it comes to selling your NIL.

There are already student-athletes making hundreds, thousands, and millions of dollars off of their NIL. Will you be next?

If you need a bit of extra income to make college more affordable, several scholarships are dedicated to athletes. You may not have to be the best of the best to win them, either! Check out our free Scholarship Search tool to see which scholarships you could be eligible for.