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Several Women’s Basketball Stars Ink NIL Deals During March Madness

As the Women’s March Madness tournament moves along, so has name, image, and likeness deals for several players who have shined on the game’s biggest stage. Several stars have added to their expansive NIL catalog, while other players have landed creative deals from unexpected places.

A Deal for Every Player

Epsilon, a global advertising and marketing company, has teamed up with NIL market platform Opendorse for the “Work Together to Win Together” campaign to promote equity for female college athletes. All 930 players in the Women’s Division I March Madness tournament are eligible to opt-in and receive $500, as well as resources for career planning and mentorship to help athletes beyond the court. Opted-in players will post the brand on social media and share what teamwork means to them. 

“We are proud to be the only company extending an NIL offer to every female athlete participating in the Division I basketball championship over the next few weeks,” Epsilon chief revenue officer Susan Rothwell said. “‘Work Together to Win Together” is one of Epsilon’s core values and exemplifies our belief that collaboration is the catalyst that unlocks our full potential.”

Darianna Littlepage-Buggs and Raid

Pest control company Raid has partnered with Baylor guard Darianna Littlepage-Buggs in its first NIL deal alongside Duke men’s basketball guard Jeremy Roach. Both appear in social and digital content, including a commercial with a play on the players’ names. 

“When the calendar flips to March, you know it’s bug’s time to shine,” Buggs said in the commercial. “But take it from me. The only “Buggs” we want surviving and advancing this March are on the court, not at the crib.” 

Buggs scored 10 points and dished out four assists to help the fifth-seeded Lady Bears beat the fourth-seeded Virginia Tech Hokies and advance to the Sweet Sixteen. 

Angel Reese and Goldman Sachs

LSU star Angel Reese has partnered with Goldman Sachs to promote the One Million Black Women campaign that aims to amplify the voices of Black women to legislators in Washington D.C. Reese stars in a commercial alongside her mother, Angel Webb Reese, a former college basketball player, to “highlight the barriers impacting Black women’s ability to leave a financial legacy for their family.” The national TV ad will run during the Elite Eight and Final Four games at the end of the tournament. 

This is Reese’s first advocacy NIL deal and a powerful message to policymakers as Black women continue to face the obstacle of obtaining generational wealth for their families. Policies that reduce the earning gap for Black women could raise the overall U.S. annual GDP growth by $300-450 billion, according to a 2021 OMBW research report.

“Listening to Black women has been at the center of our work with One Million Black Women from the start, and through our public policy initiative and national surveys, we’re able to share their feedback directly with policymakers,” said Jessica Taylor, a national director of One Million Black Women at Goldman Sachs. “Angel is a leader on and off the court, and we’re proud to partner with her on OMBW to help amplify the voices of Black women.”

Photo courtesy: Scott Clause / USA TODAY NETWORK via Imagn

Caitlin Clark and Xfinity

Iowa star Caitlin Clark has added Xfinity to her NIL portfolio as she starred in a clever commercial with another Caitlyn Clark, a city planner from Phoenix. While the city planner shows her lack of basketball skills, Iowa’s Clark comes in to show “real-deal speed, reliability, and power with Xfinity.”

“Not all Caitlin Clarks are the same,” the commercial says. “Just like not all internet providers are the same. Don’t settle.” 

A video posted to X by the husband of Caitlyn Clark from Phoenix has garnered over 2.4 million views and 18,000+ likes. He added a reply saying the commercial ran on CBS and ABC during Iowa’s tournament game on Saturday with more set to air as the tournament continues.

This deal is one of the many in Clark’s vast array, which includes State Farm, Nike, and Gatorade. Her NIL valuation is $3.1 million and ranks fourth among all college athletes behind only Bronny James, Shadeur Sanders, and Livvy Dunne, according to On3 valuations.

UNC and the North Carolina Dairy Industry

Three members of the UNC women’s basketball team have entered into a deal with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to promote chocolate milk as a sports recovery drink and support farmers in NC’s dairy industry. Alyssa Utsby, Alexandra Zelaya, and Kayla McPherson are taking part in the social media campaign as they explain the nutritional benefits of chocolate milk as a post-workout recovery option.

This is one of the first NIL deals to involve a North Carolina state agency and an innovative way to promote chocolate milk and the dairy industry in the state, which produces 894 million pounds of milk per year. 

JuJu Watkins Signs Multiple Deals

The University of Southern California’s star freshman guard JuJu Watkins added deals from Spotify, Estée Lauder, Instagram, and Ritz Crackers. From interviews with Spotify to Q&As with Instagram and sharing her favorite snacks, Watkins has been extremely active in the NIL space over the season.

Watkins is also featured in a new AT&T commercial as a part of their “Connect to the Madness” campaign with former March stars Sabrina Ionescu and Jalen Brunson. She continues to shine on the court for the top-seeded Trojans, averaging over 25 points and eight rebounds in the first two rounds en route to the Sweet Sixteen.

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