University of Oregon Women’s basketball player Sedona Prince was able to parlay her TikTok fame into several business opportunities through the NCAA’s newly amended Name Image and Likeness (NIL) policy.
But instead of posting an advertisement to millions of her social media followers, Prince is delving further into the business world through an equity deal with Riff Energy, an energy drink and cold-brew coffee company.
“I’ve really tried to optimize my NIL opportunities as entrepreneurship, take what I do off the court, which is TikTok, certain brand deals, but turn them into something that I can use for the rest of my life, money that I can retire with, put my kids through college for, or with and stuff,” Prince said on Yahoo Finance Live (video above). “And so that’s what I wanted to do: have something that I was really a part of, work on the company, work on branding, take my skills, and use them for a company that I love and believe in. So hopefully this will be something that’s lifelong for me.”
Equity deals are rare in the NIL world. Per data from Opendorse, posting content and “signing something” are the top two revenue-producing activities for college athletes in the NIL space. These two activities combined make up more than 50 percent of the market.
Though the exact financial details of Prince’s deal weren’t released, she noted that she will receive both equity in the company and a revenue share in each of the sales made through her referral link, which pushes her a step closer to the business than most college athlete brand deals.
Riff announced Prince’s new position, Chief Community Officer, on April 22 in accordance with Earth Day. The company boasts that its product is a carbon-neutral energy drink that reuses cascara, a coffee fruit normally “left to rot,” as a main ingredient.
“Most NIL activities right now are student-athletes doing brand deals and then just getting money from that,” Prince said. “But I wanted to do something more than that. I wanted to have equity in a company. And this is the company that I felt most comfortable with — that they’re doing environmental things that I really loved and was passionate about.”
Leveling the playing field for female athletes
With 3.1 million followers on TikTok, Prince may be as famous as a creator as she is on the basketball court. In March 2021, her two worlds collided as her TikTok video highlighting the differences between the men’s and women’s NCAA Tournament weight rooms sparked a nationwide discussion on gender equality in the March Madness tournaments.
Prince said that while the battle for gender equality is still ongoing, NIL deals are leveling the playing field.
As of March 31, women’s basketball players have produced more revenue than any sport outside of football, per Opendorse. With 17.8% of the market share, women’s basketball led men’s basketball by 2% in total NIL compensation.
The market for women’s college basketball players is so robust that Prince believes players can make more from their NIL deals in college than they’d make in the WNBA, where the average salary is estimated at about $120,000.
“I think the brand that women athletes have [is] of just that on- and off-the-court relatability. We tell our stories really well,” Prince said. “And so I think that empowers women athletes to kind of show who they are and engage with fans in that certain way. It’s just different than the men’s players. And then brands are really interested in that. Companies want to invest their money into student-athletes that have more than just their sport.”
Josh is a producer for Yahoo Finance.