Paige Bueckers from the UConn Huskies celebrates her first quarter basket against Baylor Lady Bears during Elite Eight round at the Alamodome of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament on March 29, 2021, San Antonio, Texas.ELSA/GETTY IMAGES
University of Connecticut basketball star Paige Beuckers announced a new partnership Monday that’s sure to add to her buckets of cash off the court.

The reigning Naismith College Player of the Year is partnering with Cash App, the mobile payment service owned by Jack Dorsey’s Block (formerly Square), to help launch the Paige Bueckers Foundation. The foundation will promote social justice and create opportunities for children and families, although specific details are still to be revealed. Cash App will endow a $100,000 Bitcoin donation and $100,000 in cash. Fans will receive $15 payments to promote the announcement. Forbes estimates that Bueckers is still just a few deals away reaching the $1 million mark for endorsements.

“I know this deal isn’t like a super long-term contract,” Bueckers tells Forbes. “But I’m working with people and want to work with people who have the same values as me.”

This marks Bueckers’ third major partnership since the NCAA stripped down its regulations in July, allowing college athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness. She signed with global e-commerce platform StockX in October and, one month later, became the first college athlete to join Gatorade’s ranks. In July, Bueckers trademarked the phrase “Paige Buckets,” which is the point guard’s nickname. 

The Bueckers’ performance in the emerging NIL market could give a glimpse at the opportunities for college athletes. Based on her sprawling social media presence—Bueckers has more than one million followers between Twitter and Instagram—a study from research outlet AthleticDirectorU named her the most marketable athlete in college sports prior to the NCAA’s rule change.
“She is the best of the best, and these major brands want to leverage her appeal, particularly to a young and growing demographic,” Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business associate professor Tim Derdenger wrote in an email. “Her success will certainly spill over to other players.”

It already has. Chet Holmgren, Gonzaga’s forward, signed a Topps deal last month that the company claimed was its largest ever with a college athlete. A streetwear clothing company was founded by Hanna Cavinder and Fresno State basketball stars Hanna Cavinder, in addition to forming partnerships with Boost Mobile and Champs, Eastbay, and WWE. 
Bueckers joins an impressive list of athletes that Cash App has signed up in the past few months. In November, Odell Beckham Jr., Los Angeles Rams wide receiver, and Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers quarterback) announced they were joining Cash App and receiving part of their salaries as Bitcoin. Andre Iguodala and Klay Thompson, both Golden State Warriors players, announced they would do the same in January. At least ten North American professional athletes based in North America have made part of their endorsement payments or salaries in cryptocurrency as cryptocurrency has become a hot topic for investor athletes.
“Obviously, I’m still learning a lot about it and trying to understand,” Bueckers says. “I just started understanding what to do with my tax money, so now I have to learn what to do with Bitcoin and cryptocurrency.”
Bueckers is a native of Hopkins, Minnesota. She arrived at UConn in 2020 to be the top-ranked recruit in America and the 2019-20 Gatorade Female athlete of the year. She won a number of awards in her freshman season, and led the heavily-favored Huskies to their first round defeat by the University of Arizona. Bueckers resumed her sophomore campaign after she broke her left leg in the first half of her second campaign. She has been sidelined for the last two weeks. She expects to be back at the end February.
Bueckers will continue to use her platform for advocacy for racial equality as she expands her sponsorship portfolio. At the 2021 ESPYs, where she won the award for best college athlete in women’s sports, Bueckers used her speech to honor and celebrate Black women. She’s adamant about including BIPOC creatives in anything she does. “I grew up with everything, a roof over my head and food on my plate,” she says. “I want to help younger kids that weren’t as fortunate as me.”
This is only the beginning.
“The current set of offers is just the tip of the iceberg,” Derdenger says. “She has a lucrative future ahead of her.”

Source link