Iowa’s Caitlin Clark piled up wins — and money — during March Madness

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Caitlin Clark was one of the top stories of the 2023 NCAA March Madness basketball tournaments.

Clark led the Iowa Hawkeyes to its first Final Four appearance in 30 years before losing to the LSU Tigers in the Championship game. During Iowa’s March run, Clark had a game with 41 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds, the first 40-point triple-double in women’s or men’s March Madness history (a triple double is when a player gets double-digits in at least three of the major categories in a game like points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks).

With her exceptional performances on the court — along with some viral smack-talking — Clark increased her profile.

There’s plenty of smack-talking to go around, of course. As the time ticked down in LSU’s championship win on Sunday, Tigers forward Angel Reese did the famous “you can’t see me” gesture — a celebration that Clark did earlier in the tournament.

While Reese’s celebration move has sparked a Twitter debate about whether it was classless or not, Clark said that she didn’t even notice because she was too focused on the game. “All you can do is hold your head high, be proud of what you did, and all the credit in the world to LSU,” she said. “They were tremendous, they deserve it. They had a tremendous season.”

Still, Clark’s performance this season was one for the books, and it’s already leading to big paydays.

For one, Clark has 484,000 Instagram followers (up from 151,000 six months ago), and has posted sponsored content to her followers in conjunction with brands like Buick and Bose during Iowa’s March title pursuit.

Clark and other college athletes have been able profit off their name, image and likeness (NIL) since 2021, when the NCAA changed its policies.

From the archives: Women could make more money than men on NIL deals

Her sponsored Instagram posts are not the only way Clark is leveraging her meteoric rise to financial success. In the past, she has agreed to sponsorship deals with West Des Moines-based and female founded apparel company The Vinyl Shop, a midwest supermarket chain called Hy-Vee, H&R Block
Topps, Nike
and Goldman Sachs

ESPN reported that Clark made at least $1 million from her NIL deals prior to signing with Nike last October.

“There is no question that Caitlin Clark has been the brightest star of March Madness,” Michael Ehrlich, head of athlete engagement at influencer marketing platform MarketPryce, said to On3 last week.

“She should be at the top of any brand’s potential athlete partner wish list,” he continued.

Women’s basketball ranks behind only football and men’s basketball in total NIL compensation, according to data from NIL company Opendorse, a technology company that connects athletes with brands.

“I’ve been super-selective,’’ Clark has said about choosing which NIL deals to commit to. “Obviously, I don’t have the time to do many things. I always try to partner with bigger companies that are usually long-term deals. They align with my values and who I am as a person.

See also: March Madness bettor turns $33,000 into $528,000 after Fairleigh Dickinson upset

Clark’s 40-point triple double game against Louisville drew 2.5 million viewers on ESPN, which was higher than the ratings for of any NBA game on the channel this season. The closest NBA viewership number for ESPN this basketball season was 2.14 million when the New York Knicks played in Boston against the Celtics on March 5, according to

“I dreamed of this moment as a little girl, to take a team to the Final Four and be in these moments and have confetti fall down on me,” Clark said after making the FInal Four.

Clark accolades include being a two-time All-American, and three-time gold medalist in international competitions and the 2023 Naismith Women’s Player of the Year.

Related: LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan: who is the GOAT when it comes to net worth?

But not everybody is loving the new NIL rules in college athletics. During a Congressional hearing last week, a subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce heard testimony from college administrators, a current college softball player, and a university president on problems with today’s NIL rules.

“The current NIL chaos means student-athletes are left to fend for themselves,” said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a Republican from Washington’s fifth district. “And those at the top of their game must figure out how to maneuver through a multiple of agents, collectives and high dollar contract offers all while maintaining their academic and athletic commitments.”

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