Well, this is a first. Kentucky quarterback Will Levis just signed a new NIL deal with…a horse? Oh yes, Levis is partnering with Thoroughbred stallion War of Will. The multimedia advertising campaign will focus on the athleticism of football players and racehorses and promote the selling of breeding seasons. It is the first-ever NIL deal between a college athlete and a syndicate-owned Thoroughbred stallion.
“We are thrilled to be the first farm to partner with a Division I athlete in this newly created NIL space,” Walker Hancock, President of Claiborne Farm, said in a release. “Having a star quarterback help promote one of our young and promising stallions is a new way of advertising that we think provides a perfect synergy of our brands. Will’s athleticism and performance displayed on the football field mirrors what we saw with War of Will on the racetrack and the reason he is such an exciting stallion prospect.”
Background on War of Will, Claiborne Farm
War of Will was a Grade 1 winner on both the turf and dirt with earnings exceeding $1.9 million. With his victory in the 2019 Preakness Stakes, War of Will became the first American Classic winner sired by internationally-renowned stallion, War Front, who also stands at Claiborne Farm. War of Will stands for a fee of $25,000 and his first foals are being born this Spring. As for Levis, you know all about him. In his first year at Kentucky, the Connecticut native threw for over 2,820 yards and 24 touchdowns, leading the Cats to ten wins, including a 20-17 victory over Iowa in the VRBO Citrus Bowl.
Claiborne Farm, which serves as the Syndicate Manager for War of Will, has been a leader in the Thoroughbred business for over a century. The historic farm in Paris, Kentucky has been home to some of the most influential horses to ever grace the turf and dirt, including Bold Ruler, Forego, Personal Ensign, Ruffian, Seabiscuit, Swale, and Secretariat, who is considered by many to be the greatest racehorse of all time. Representatives of Athlete Advantage, the N.I.L company responsible for fostering the deal, are excited about the prospects of this partnership.
“We are extremely excited to be a part of such a substantial deal that establishes the connection between the amazing Student-Athletes at the University of Kentucky and the thoroughbred breeding business, one of the signature industries of the Commonwealth,” said Athlete Advantage President Ryan Miller. “We believe that Will Levis and War of Will will be considered pioneers in the N.I.L. space, blazing a trail for all those following behind them. We are grateful that Walker and his team at Claiborne Farm had the foresight to see the value in partnering with Will Levis and are confident that all parties involved will be tremendously pleased by the positive impact created by an opportunity of this significance.”
Another creative NIL deal for Will Levis
This is just the latest creative deal for Will Levis, who currently has an On3 NIL valuation of $149,000, which ranks 60th among college football players. In February, Levis signed a contract with Grand Slam Collectibles, which will pay him a guaranteed $100,000, the largest collectibles deal yet for an NCAA athlete. He also has his own merchandise line, Will Levis L7, promoted Dr. Pepper and DirecTV, and arranged for his offensive linemen to eat Sunday dinners at Malone’s. Levis also used his NIL rights to give back to the community. He organized an autograph signing and auctioned off custom cleats to raise money for Western Kentucky tornado relief.
What will he think of next?