Kentucky, Louisville Athletes Cashing In On Their Image, Endorsements

By Anna Gallegos

July 1, 2021

Malik Cunningham
Photo: Getty Images

Student athletes at the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville have hit the ground running when it comes to endorsement deals.

July 1 is the first day that college athletes in the state of Kentucky can make money off of their name, image, and likeness. Governor Andy Beshear signed an executive order last week that will allow student athletes to get paid, and both UK and UoL said they were onboard with the decision.

A handful of local athletes announced on Thursday their new business ventures.

Kentucky basketball's Dontaie Allen is the university's first player to announce an endorsement deal. Allen is releasing his own line of merchandise with The Players Trunk. He's also selling an up to 15 minute Zoom call for $80.

UK players Davion Mintz, Kellan Grady, and Jacob Toppin signed up for Cameo, a site where you can pay celebrities to film a personalized message. UK coach John Callipari has been on Cameo for more than a year, and his custom videos go for $400.

Louisville football players Malik Cunningham and Dezmond Tell are now listed on Dreamfield Sports. The site lets users hire athletes for personal appearances. Cunningham is charging $300 an hour while Tell is selling his time for $70 an hour.

Wide receiver Jordan Watkins announced a deal with a media site that covers Louisville sports, but specifics haven't been announced.

Louisville volleyball players Alexa Hendricks and Anna DeBeer are among the 42 athletes from 10 different schools who are working with Fans Meet Idols. The website's creator Steve Kennedy told ESPN that he's setting realistic expectations for players from less popular sports who hope to get rich quick.

"We're speaking to people and saying, 'We're trying to help you avoid the big letdown,'" Kennedy said. "There's all this hype and we're talking directly to the student-athletes, and they're telling us that they're buying into the hype and they're expecting something to monetize their (name, image, and likeness) in some shape or form. It comes down to this rude awakening that they're going to find out that they don't have enough social media followers or they don't have a big enough brand yet."

Expect to see more student athletes signing similar endorsement deals in the coming weeks.

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