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The LSU Tigers had an unforgettable outing on Monday when their Angel Reese-led basketball team faced a shocking defeat against the Iowa Hawkeyes. The Louisianan team was looking to defend their title, but they were sent on the back foot by the Iowan squad. Caitlin Clark of the Hawkeyes tallied 41 points, 12 assists, and seven rebounds, leaving no chance of redemption for the Tigers.

However, the Tigers still have a chance to make amends, as one of their other stars in gymnastics, Olivia Dunne, will be competing in the NCAA championships soon. Dunne has already made a promising start to the season after helping her team secure their fifth SEC Championship title. LSU demonstrates remarkable resilience, with its athletes refusing to yield. It’s their never-give-up attitude that propels the organization’s dominance.

Well, it’s LSU’s world-class athletic facilities and their ability to help their alumni grab some groundbreaking NIL deals that make them stand out in the league. Olivia Dunne and Angel Reese became two of the pioneers in grabbing the name, image, and likeness deal. So much so that the LSU prodigies were the highest-paid NCAA female athletes last year, and at the top of that, they are two of the highest-paid athletes overall.

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Olivia Dunne and Angel Reese: Leading the Charge for College Athletes

Stephanie Apstein, a senior journalist for Sports Illustrated who wrote the cover story about LSU being a leader in providing its athletes with some of the best NIL deals, appeared for a podcast on Locked on LSU, and the story that Apstein wrote featured Dunne and Reese as the headliners. She also agrees with the fact that the two have opened the gates for female athletes and have become the faces of the young generation of athletes. “They’ve overtaken almost all of the men, it’s kind of incredible,” is what she said about Dunne and Reese.

Olivia Dunne broke into the headlines after she signed with the activewear brand Vuori in 2021; it was one of the first name, image, and likeness deals of her career. She was also the highest-paid female athlete in 2023, and her massive fan following of 13.2 million across the various social media platforms also played a major role in grabbing these lucrative deals. Apart from Vuori, she also signed a deal with Leaf Trading Cards, a Dallas-based trading card and sports collectibles company, last year, and her popularity is so proverbial that the athlete charges a whopping amount per post on Instagram, excluding the charges of other platforms. As per the On3 NIL 100, she ranked third with an NIL valuation of $3.6 million.

Apart from this, the 21-year-old Westwood native has also started “Livvy Fund,” a non-profit organization that helps aspiring female athletes fulfill their dreams by helping them seize brand deals. Accelerator Active Energy was the first brand that Livvy Fund partnered with last year, and it was reported that somewhere around eight LSU gymnasts will benefit from the signing with the latter brand. In addition to Olivia Dunne, Angel Reese is another rising athlete who has challenged the male-dominated NIL landscape and has emerged as the face of numerous brands.

Angel Reese’s trailblazing journey and opening doors with valuable NIL deals

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Reese has become one of the household names in the women’s basketball scene, and she has emerged as one of the breakout stars lately. So much so that she was one of the main reasons that the LSU Tigers took home the title of NCAA champions last year. Her popularity is so pronounced that brands were rallying behind the athlete and wanted her to promote them, and Reese was toe to toe with some of the biggest WNBA players in terms of earnings even before she started playing professionally.

Reese inked deals with popular brands such as Sports Illustrated, Calvin Klein, Outback Steakhouse, PlayStation, Raising Canes, McDonald’s, Coach, Wingstop, Outback Steakhouse, and Amazon, and it also skyrocketed her NIL valuation to an astounding $1.4 million initially. Later, it increased, and as per On3 NIL 100, her NIL valuation stood at a staggering $1.8 million last year, and she is just getting started. As per the March 2023 Sponsor United report, Angel has an enormous 17 NIL deals under her belt, not to mention she is just 21 years old.

via Imago

She enjoys a fan following of 6 million across Instagram (2.7 million), Tik Tok (2.2 million), and X (375k), and these numbers also play a major part in her bagging deals with such massive brands. With all that being said, LSU in general plays a major role in helping its alumni grab these deals. As per a stat from Stephanie Apstein, among the top 100 athletes, four to five were LSU alumni, which speaks volumes about their facilities and the kind of platform they give to their athletes.

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Read More: “Match Made in Heaven”: $6,000,000 Worth LSU Gymnast Olivia Dunne Found Her Perfect First NIL Brand Deal