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Caitlin Clark inks multi-year NIL deal with Panini America trading cards

Nakos updated headshotby:Pete Nakos03/06/24


Caitlin Clark has already broken every NCAA scoring record.

Now she is making history in the trading card space. The Iowa basketball star has signed a multi-year, exclusive endorsement deal with Panini America. She becomes the first female athlete to ink an exclusive trading card and memorabilia contract with the company.

Clark’s memorabilia exclusivity begins immediately, and trading card exclusivity will begin on April 1, 2024, according to Panini. The reigning National Player of the Year previously was in a partnership with Topps.

“Caitlin is a generational talent, and it is natural that she should be our first multi-year exclusive female athlete,” Panini’s senior vice president of marketing and athlete Relations Jason Howarth said. “We’ll have a range of products and memorabilia featuring Caitlin that we believe fans will love.”

To kick off the partnership, Panini plans to release a collection of multiple cards celebrating different points of Clark’s career, including her first Panini Instant Card which will capture the moment she passed Kelsey Plum to become the leading scorer in women’s college basketball.

The trading card company also has plans to release a “dedicated Caitlin Clark trading card product” that will be available for pre-order in early April.

Clark joins a growing list of college athletes to work with Panini. Nebraska quarterback Dylan RaiolaTexas quarterbacks Arch Manning and Quinn Ewers and Ohio State quarterback Julian Sayin recently signed exclusive deals with the company. Panini also has a lengthy list of college basketball partnerships.

“It’s an honor to partner with Panini America as their first multi-year exclusive female athlete, and I’m excited to collaborate with them on my own collection,” said Clark.

Will Caitlin Clark earn more brand dollars in WNBA?

Caitlin Clark announced her plans last Thursday to enter the 2024 WNBA draft. She passed Pete Maravich’s all-time scoring record on Sunday in Iowa City. And the guard has the Hawkeyes primed for another shot at the Final Four.

The question is: Will she continue to find the same success with brands at the next level? The first sign that the dollars will follow her to the WNBA came Tuesday when she inked a multi-year endorsement deal with Gainbridge. The Indiana-based company is the title sponsor of the Indiana Pacers’ and Fever’s home arena in Indianapolis

There is no questioning what she can accomplish on the court. She’s leading the nation with 32.3 points and 8.7 assists per game. ESPN women’s basketball analyst and former WNBA All-Star Rebecca Lobo declared that Clark is the “best offensive player I’ve seen in my 35 years playing and covering the women’s college game.”

If the endorsement dollars and cents don’t add up with the Indiana Fever, there are other options. Clark could play internationally as another source of income. In 2015, The New York Times reported that Phoenix Mercury star Diana Taurasi, a holder of an Italian passport, was paid close to $1.5 million annually by the Russian powerhouse UMMC Ekaterinburg. The WNBA max contract in 2024 is $208,219.

“Caitlin Clark is a true representation of NIL, which is the ability to profit off of your marketability,” a source in the agency space told On3. “I don’t see that changing once she gets to WNBA so long as she continues to play well. She has shown the ability to make good decisions from a branding aspect such as announcing she won’t be returning her last year, a few days before Senior Night, to further add a spotlight on the game and therefore drive more ticket sales and additional views. That is what companies look for, and I think she will continue to profit off of her true NIL.”

On3 NIL Valuation climbing following draft declaration

The Iowa star has the top-ranked women’s basketball On3 NIL Valuation at $3.1 million. The valuation trails just Bronny JamesShedeur Sanders and Livvy Dunne. Already the face of college basketball, she can check off being the face of a professional league at the next level. Her valuation has jumped $2.2 million on the heels of her WNBA draft declaration.

The valuation is also No. 4 in the On3 NIL 100, the first of its kind and defacto NIL ranking of the top 100 high school and college athletes ranked by their On3 NIL Valuation. She also has notable endorsement deals with Hy-Vee, GatoradeNike and Buick.

“So often, we talk about Roster Value being the driving force of NIL Valuation. But with Caitlan Clark it’s the exact opposite,” On3 founder and CEO Shannon Terry said. “There isn’t a high school or college athlete that has more national brand opportunities than Clark. Moving on to the WNBA is opening so many more endorsement opportunities – and well before her first professional game. She will be the face of the league and her On3 NIL Valuation is skyrocketing.”

Clark recently brought Excel Sports on for representation. Working with Alan ZuckerColleen Garrity and Erin Kane. They will be tasked with replicating the collegiate success in the WNBA.

About On3 NIL Valuation, Brand Value, Roster Value