History Making: Who endorses Caitlin Clark with $24 million?

Women’s basketball phenomenon Caitlin Clark is poised to sign a lucrative eight-figure endorsement deal with Nike, according to The Athletic. The Indiana Fever rookie, who was the first overall pick in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) draft, is also expected to receive a signature shoe from the US sportswear giant.

Nike triumphed over Adidas and Under Armour to secure Clark’s endorsement. Notably, Under Armour’s pitch to Clark featured NBA superstar Stephen Curry, emphasizing the high stakes of this endorsement race.

Clark’s rise has been meteoric. During her college career at the University of Iowa, she set numerous records and elevated women’s college basketball’s popularity. Her previous name, image, and likeness (NIL) deal with Nike expired after the 2023/24 season, opening the door for this monumental agreement.

The 22-year-old’s presence at the WNBA draft drew record viewership figures for ESPN, with 2.45 million viewers tuning in to see her selected by the Fever. Her marketability is unparalleled, and her endorsement portfolio is extensive, featuring brands such as State Farm, Gatorade, Panini, and Gainbridge.

Clark now joins an elite group of WNBA players with signature shoe deals. She becomes the sixth active player to achieve this, joining Washington Mystics star Elena Delle Donne and New York Liberty sharpshooter Sabrina Ionescu on Nike’s roster. Ionescu’s deal with Nike is reportedly worth $24 million, underscoring the financial potential for Clark.

Other WNBA luminaries with signature shoes include Phoenix Mercury icon Diana Taurasi with Nike, Las Vegas Aces’ titan Candace Parker with Adidas, and the Liberty’s Breanna Stewart with Puma.

Clark’s decision to align with Nike is strategic, considering the brand’s prominence and her existing relationship with them. The investment is likely to yield substantial returns for Nike, leveraging Clark’s vast fanbase and growing influence in women’s sports.

ESPN and the WNBA have already reaped the benefits of Clark’s entry into the league, as evidenced by record draft viewership. WNBA CMO Phil Cook likened her impact to “Tiger Woods entering the PGA Tour,” highlighting her transformative potential. The Fever will be featured in 36 nationally televised games next season, ensuring Clark’s visibility on a grand scale. Her Fever jersey has already become the highest-selling jersey for a draft pick, demonstrating her immediate commercial impact.