Caitlin Clark Lands Historic Nike Shoe Deal Worth Millions Just Before Her Rookie Season Kicks Off

Riding high after a wave of Clark-mania that accompanied the NCAA women’s basketball tournament, Caitlin Clark has signed a megabucks shoe contract with Nike.

The eight-year deal will be worth up to $28 million, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing sources it did not name. The Journal summed it up as the “most lucrative and attractive shoe deal in women’s basketball—and yet another record for her collection.”

The endorsement deal dwarfs the controversial contract Clark signed with the WNBA team the Indiana Fever, which will pay her over $330,000 over four years.

Nike had Clark under contract in a deal that expired at the end of the season, but as she was climbing the pinnacle of achievement in an unrivaled spotlight, in the shadows there was some hard bargaining taking place.

The Journal report said that on Feb. 15, after Clark poured in 49 points, her agents were raising the stakes with Nike, Adidas, Under Armour and Puma.

Their proposal: Nothing under $3 million a year.

“Some of the brand reps were shocked by the number. It was a huge sum for a women’s basketball player, few of whom ever receive deals worth more than six figures,” the Journal reported.

Amid the bargaining, some shoe company executives were conditioning deals on Clark staying in college another year on the grounds that as a college phenomenon, she was more attractive to consumers than as a professional, the Journal reported.

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Clark is set to graduate May 14, according to CNN. However, she has an extra year of college ball eligibility under an NCAA COVID exemptions, according to The Sporting News.

But Clark changed the conversation as she soared to new levels of achievement – and ratings.

“She played herself into a position where it wasn’t even contingent on staying in college,” a source told the Journal. “People just wanted her.”

Not Puma. It dropped out.

Adidas had its turn.

“While some athletes let their agents ask the questions or wade through details, this was one more area where Clark, an honors student in marketing at Iowa’s business school, liked to have the ball in her hands. Adidas executives were surprised by how engaged, curious and well-prepared she was on the call,” the Journal wrote.

The offer clanged on the rim: $6 million for four years.

Under Armour offered $16 million over four years along with a signature shoe. Close, but not enough.

Nike started with $3.5 million per year. The deal would last through the next three Olympic Games. But it took one more piece — a signature shoe – to close the deal, the Journal reported.

Diana Taurisi, the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer, said all the hype has been fun, but it is in the past.

The Women’s NBA season begins next month, and Clark is expected to see playing time right off the bat, according to USA Today, but the game she’ll be playing could be much different from her college competitions.

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“You look superhuman playing against some 18-year-olds, but you’re going to come play with some grown women that have been playing professional basketball for a long time,” Taurasi told sports columnist Jay Mariotti for a Substack post.

“There’s a period of grace that you have to give rookies when they get to the league. We’ve had some of the greats to ever play basketball, and it takes two or three years to get used to a different game (against) the best players in the world. As long as everyone has expectations that are realistic, they should be fine,” she said.

But WNBA analyst Rebecca Lobo said judging Clark by anyone else’s norms sells her short.

“There’s no comparison that I can find on the women’s side, and I’ve been in this league since the very beginning,” she said.

“We haven’t seen a player drive ticket sales like this. We haven’t seen a player drive ratings like this. Look at the ratings, the last four or five games she played. I’ve never seen anything to this degree, and to me, what’s special is that she’s staying in the Midwest and going to Indiana. It’s such a perfect fit,” she said.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

Source material can be found at this site.

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