Caitlin Clark was one of the top stories of the 2023 NCAA March Madness basketball tournaments. Clark led the Iowa Hawkeyes to its first Final Four appearance in 30 years before losing to the LSU Tigers in the Championship game. During Iowa’s March run, Clark had a game with 41 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds, the first 40-point triple-double in women’s or men’s March Madness history (a triple double is when a player gets double-digits in at least three of the major categories in a game like points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks).
With her exceptional performances on the court — along with some viral smack-talking — Clark increased her profile. There’s plenty of smack-talking to go around, of course. As the time ticked down in LSU’s championship win on Sunday, Tigers forward Angel Reese did the famous “you can’t see me” gesture — a celebration that Clark did earlier in the tournament.
While Reese’s celebration move has sparked a Twitter debate about whether it was classless or not, Clark said that she didn’t even notice because she was too focused on the game. “All you can do is hold your head high, be proud of what you did, and all the credit in the world to LSU,” she said. “They were tremendous, they deserve it. They had a tremendous season.” Still, Clark’s performance this season was one for the books, and it’s already leading to big paydays. For one, Clark has 484,000 Instagram followers (up from 151,000 six months ago), and has posted sponsored content to her followers in conjunction with brands like Buick and Bose during Iowa’s March title pursuit. Clark and other college athletes have been able profit off their name, image and likeness (NIL) since 2021, when the NCAA changed its policies. From the archives: Women could make more money than men on NIL deals Her sponsored Instagram posts are not the only way Clark is leveraging her meteoric rise to financial success. In the past, she has agreed to sponsorship deals with West Des Moines-based and female founded apparel company The Vinyl Shop, a midwest supermarket chain called Hy-Vee, H&R Block
and Goldman Sachs
ESPN reported that Clark made at least $1 million from her NIL deals prior to signing with Nike last October. “There is no question that Caitlin Clark has been the brightest star of March Madness,” Michael Ehrlich, head of athlete engagement at influencer marketing platform MarketPryce, said to On3 last week. “She should be at the top of any brand’s potential athlete partner wish list,” he continued. Women’s basketball ranks behind only football and men’s basketball in total NIL compensation, according to data from NIL company Opendorse, a technology company that connects athletes with brands. “I’ve been super-selective,’’ Clark has said about choosing which NIL deals to commit to. “Obviously, I don’t have the time to do many things. I always try to partner with bigger companies …