Caitlin Clark to sign $28 million deal with Nike to get her own sneaker

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WNBA superstar Caitlin Clark is getting ready to sign an eight-year, $28 million deal with Nike, according to reports. 

Clark, whose NCAA career at the University of Iowa pushed women’s basketball to new heights, already had a Nike deal as a college athlete. That deal, allowed under new regulations that permit college athletes to sign endorsement deals, expired after the college basketball season ended a few weeks ago. 

Now that Clark has gone pro as the number one pick by the Indiana Fever in the WNBA draft and taken the sports world by storm, she is eyeing a much bigger payday from the swoosh. 

Clark’s rumored deal with Nike would include a signature shoe line, according to The Athletic. The fact that Clark will sign what is set to be the biggest apparel contract of any WNBA player and become one of only three with their own shoe is testament to how much Iowa’s sharpshooter has cemented her status as one of the most bankable stars in sports. Along the way, she set countless basketball records on the court and ratings milestones among fans, as her appeal became truly mainstream. 

Other shoe companies such as Under Armour, Adidas, and Puma also tried a run at Clark, but she opted to stay put with Nike. Under Armour’s pitch even included an appearance from NBA superstar Stephen Curry, who is the face of the brand’s basketball apparel. Adidas sent Clark prototypes for what her shoes might look like, according to the Wall Street Journal. Puma dropped out early, once it heard Clark was looking for a minimum of $3 million a season. 

Ultimately that was a number that only Nike could match. Clark’s rumored deal would pay her $3.5 million a season over the course of the deal. That amount is enough to be one of the biggest endorsement deals in the WNBA. At the moment only three WNBA players—Breanna Stewart, Sabrina Ionescu and Elena Delle Donne—have their own shoe line. In basketball circles, having a branded shoe is considered a status symbol that represents both a player’s talent and their status as an icon, worthy of promoting their own line of merchandising. 

Clark certainly fits the bill for the latter. While in college, Clark became one of the most electrifying and talked-about athletes in the country. On the court she broke records, becoming the highest-scoring basketball player in NCAA history. Those performances pushed the game to new levels of popularity. A Final Four matchup between Clark’s Iowa and the University of Connecticut was the highest-rated basketball game in ESPN’s history, according to the sports broadcaster. 

The length of Nike’s contract seems, in part, to try and get in early on Clark’s popularity. A mix of undeniable basketball talent, including her penchant for bombing three pointers, and her unbothered, affable persona are the sort of rare combination that could propel her to the mainstream appeal brands crave in their celebrity spokespeople. 

Clark is no stranger to the world of high-profile brand deals. In college, aside from her Nike deal, she had endorsements valued at $3.1 million, making her one of the highest-paid college athletes in the country. The millions Clark is set to earn from sponsors pales in comparison to her WNBA salary, which will be a little over $76,000.

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