Angel Reese And Olivia Dunne Could Be Heading Down Very Different NIL Paths

Olivia Dunne and Angel Reese

Getty Image / Noam Galai

Basketball player Angel Reese and gymnast Olivia Dunne are two of the biggest beneficiaries of the legalization of college athletes being able to profit off of their name, image, and likeness. And, the two LSU Tigers graced the cover of the most recent episode of the world-famous periodical, Sports Illustrated, to highlight their place in the NIL landscape.

The Sports Illustrated article delved into how NIL is effecting each of them, which isn’t really all that similar, despite the two frequently being grouped together. There’s no doubt that both of them have felt major positive impacts.

Olivia Dunne has established quite the social media empire, with over 10 million followers. She’s also an All-American gymnast for the Tigers, having earned that title on the uneven bars in 2021.

Meanwhile, Angel Reese burst onto the scene in a big way last spring as she was the best player on the NCAA Women’s Basketball Division I national champions. She’s also exploded on social media, and both her and Dunne featured in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition earlier this year.
This had led to big, big bucks, for both, which the article highlights.

NIL has changed more than you think for these two athletes, though. Let’s look at Angel Reese, and how NIL could impact her future choices.

Reese, who spent two years as a dominant force at Maryland before transferring to LSU before last season, may end up staying in college much longer than she normally would have due to NIL.

The power forward would be eligible for the WNBA Draft following the upcoming season, where she is likely to be drafted at or near the top of the board. But, the salary for the top WNBA draft pick in year one is around $75,000.

She will make significantly more money from LSU boosters than that. And, with the exposure of the college game bigger than WNBA, she’s probably more lucrative to brands as an LSU Tiger. With 2020-2021 season being a free year of eligibility for all NCAA Division I athletes, she still has two years remaining.

“Everybody knows the WNBA doesn’t make that much money, so I just want to be able to grow my brand as much as I can in college before I go to the WNBA,” says Reese, who would be able to earn a salary no more than $75,000 next year under the WNBA’s rookie pay scale. “I’ve done so many photo shoots. I’ve done so many commercials. Being able to pitch those things with the team I have now is going to help me when I graduate and decide to go to the WNBA.” -Angel Reese, Sports Illustrated.

The situation is a little different for Olivia Dunne. Her lineup of impressive endorsement deals seems less tied to her success as a gymnast and more tied to her social media empire and traditionally good looks. She seems like someone who is going to have huge staying power in terms of being in the public spotlight.

“People definitely discredit what I do,” Dunne says. “People need to understand that I’ve worked for everything I’ve earned. I’ve spent years building an audience, and brands pay me for what they believe is worth the reach of the demographic that I offer.” -Olivia Dunne, Sports Illustrated

Both student-athletes are preparing for their upcoming seasons, with both teams having serious national title aspirations.