Sponsor Insights

Apparel & Accessories Leads In NIL Deals

More than 1,000 brands have partnered with collegiate athletes in NIL deals over the last 15 months, and that number continues to be on the rise.

Through August 2022, 1,637 NIL partnerships have been inked across college sports, which collectively include 3,381 social posts. Engagement across all deals stood at 34M– averaging 20,839 per deal–while average engagement per post numbered 7,069, with 5.14% of followers engaging.

Here’s a breakdown of the top 5 industry categories in the NIL space by number of deals, with a quick look at their respective leading players.

Apparel & Accessories

  • The Players Trunk : 60% of the brand’s overall NIL partnerships are with men’s college basketball athletes. 
  • Adidas: The brand has NIL deals with athletes in 8 sports, while 51% of its NIL partnerships are with female athletes (21% women’s soccer; 15% softball; 15% women’s volleyball). 
  • American Eagle Outfitters: 46% of American Eagle Outfitters’ NIL partnerships are with college football athletes–30% of whom play for Ohio State. LSU gymnast Olivia Dunne’s 9 American Eagle Outfitters posts have racked up a total engagement of 2,333,957 so far. 



  • Players’ Lounge: 91% of the gaming brand’s overall partnerships are with college athletes, of which 79% are football players.  
  • Epic Games: College football players comprise 54% of the brand’s NIL partnerships are with football athletes. While female basketball players only account for 13% of its deals, University of Oregon’s Sedona Prince tops Epic’s partner list for highest total social engagement (25,489) and average engagement per post (12,745). 
  • Mercury NFT: 68% of the brand’s overall partnerships are with college athletes:  62% in men’s Basketball and 6% in football. 


Quick Serve Restaurants (QSR)

  • Raising Cane’s: While 42% of the chicken finger specialist’s NIL partnerships are with football athletes, the brand is the only QSR that has a partnership with a (female) wrestler–Marlee Smith (Arizona State). Football player Stetson Bennet boasts the brand’s highest total and average engagement, at 46,964 and 23,482, respectively. 
  • Krystal: 59% of the Georgia-based burger maker’s overall partnerships are with college athletes (37% football; 12% men’s basketball; 10% women’s basketball). Georgia women’s soccer player Abby Boyan is its one NIL deal outside of football and basketball. 
  • Bojangles: 27% of the chicken-and-biscuit brand’s NIL partnerships are with female athletes (23% women’s basketball; 5% softball), while 52% are with football players. 



  • FTX: 65% of the brand’s NIL partnerships are with football players, while 23% of FTX’s overall partnerships are with college athletes (17% football; 6% men’s basketball). Sacramento State men’s basketball player Deshaun Highler totaled 19 posts for FTX, with a total engagement of 33,233. 
  • H&R Block: 94% of the tax prep company’s partnerships are with female athletes. South Carolina women’s basketball player Zia Cooke leads its list of athlete endorsers: 5 of her posts for the brand scored total engagement of 200,248 followers. 
  • Current: 53% of the fintech brand’s NIL partnerships are with football players. Nebraska Women’s volleyball standout Lexi Rodriguez and Arizona State women’s wrestler Marlee Smith boast Current’s top two total engagements on social, at 8,628 and 1,858, respectively. 


Non-Alcoholic Beverages

  • UPTIME Energy: 44% of the brand’s overall partnerships are with college softball players. It’s 1 of 6 brands (along with Magic Spoon, Champs Sports, DoorDash, DSW, and Met-Rx) to have a partnership with a men’s soccer athlete–Jared Panson of Brandeis University–and 1 of 2 non-alcoholic beverage brands (along with Rowdy Energy) to partner with a lacrosse athlete.  
  • Simple Truth: 55% of its overall partnerships are with men’s basketball players.  
  • Six Star Pro Nutrition: 24% of the brand’s total partnerships are with college basketball athletes (16% men’s; 8% women’s). It’s the only non-alcoholic beverage partnered with a (female) golfer: Stanford University’s Rachel Heck.   


The top 5 brands by number of deals in the NIL space are:

  1. Hooters: 40% of the brand’s overall partnerships are with college football players. One of its notable NIL deals outside the sport is with University of Arkansas golfer John Daly II, son of professional golfer John Daly.
  2. Players’ Lounge (see above)
  3. FTX (see above)
  4. Raising Cane’s (see above)
  5. Degree: The deodorant brand has deals with athletes across 11 college sports; 24% of its NIL partnerships are with female athletes.  

Fashion’s Top Names Make A Stylish Splash On Social Media

New York Fashion Week (NYFW), one of the highlights of the city’s fall calendar, kicks off tomorrow continuing through September 14th.

Three longtime NYFW mainstays–Michael Kors, Tommy Hilfiger, and Coach–stand out among the 60-plus brands on the event’s official schedule, thanks to their statement-making sponsorship and media partnerships.  

With just over 10 endorsement deals, NY-based Michael Kors is the most exclusive of the stylish triumvirate, yet leads the three in social followers (40M). Michael Kors’ most successful social partnership is with Bella Hadid, which at last count tallied 3,342,441 engagements from 4 posts. The brand’s average engagement per deal stands at 587,857. 

Tommy Hilfiger has over 60 partnerships, 35% of which are endorsement deals with athletes of all kinds–including aquatic sports, combat sports, and motorsports. The American sportswear powerhouse is 1 of just 2 fashion brands to have entered the metaverse, via a partnership with Roblox that launched in December 2021.

Social media looms large in Coach’s marketing strategy, where 94% of the brand’s total partnerships utilize social content. Endorsement deals comprise 30% of the brand’s sponsorships. In March 2022, Coach signed its first Korean brand ambassador, “All of Us Are Dead” actor Yoon Chan Young. His posts with Coach engaged a staggering 23% of his followers, dwarfing the brand’s 1.2% average engagement rate. Yoon and Michael B. Jordan are the only two actors who currently partner with the brand. 

Meanwhile, Japanese model Koki has posted the most Coach content, with 26 unique posts that engaged 1,500,548 followers and counting. 

Though conspicuously absent from NYFW’s official schedule, luxury mega brands Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Prada are seemingly unstoppable forces on social media, garnering more than 250 million engagements across their collective partnerships.

With just over 20 endorsements, Louis Vuitton dominates the social fashion scene with north of 80M total followers. Even more impressive, the brand’s engagement stands at 129M, with an average of nearly 3M per partnership. Close to 50% of the brand’s total engagement comes from a deal with South Korean model and actress HoYeon Jung, who’s tallied over 60M engagements across her 17 social posts with the French luxury fashion house.

Gucci, which closely trails LV on social with just under 80M followers, trumps its rival in endorsement deals, with more than 35. The brand partners with pop music artists such as Billie Eilish, Miley Cyrus and others in 23% of its deals. With only 4 social partnerships with pop music artists, its 65M total engagement is mainly split between deals with Eilish and Cyrus, whose engagement totals 27M and 24M respectively.

While Prada lags behind Louis Vuitton and Gucci on social media, its 40M following is far from small. With more than 210 posts spanning its 51 social partners’ platforms, the brand’s total engagement tops 50M; posts with K-Pop stars Jan Wong Young and TWICE account for 54% of that figure. Prada also starred in a TikTok reel with TikTok superstar Charli D’Amelio last spring, in which she unboxed a package sent by the brand. The top post with Charli saw an engagement of over 1.1 million.

Decentraland Fashion Week | Activation Spotlight

Brands Hit the Virtual Runway in Their Metaverse Fashion Week Debut

Metaverse platform, Decentraland, held the first ever virtual fashion week over the weekend. Brands leveraged the high end, one-of-a-kind 4-day event by creating unique experiences for users. 

Estée Lauder partnered with Alex Box, a prominent female artist in the Metaverse space, to create an original, wearable non-fungible token (NFT) inspired by the brand’s #1 serum, Advanced Night Repair.

Apparel brand DKNY opened digital stores during Decentraland’s Metaverse Fashion Week as an immersive experience themed around its spring 2022 campaign. DKNY leveraged virtual signage in the Metaverse to advertise the experience.

Meta Yachts is the first ever virtual marina in the Metaverse, and is located in the Fashion District. During Fashion Week, Meta Yachts hosted VIP after-parties and private events.

Tommy Hilfiger leveraged the Metaverse by letting consumers view floating 3D renders of limited-edition products from the spring collection. The items can be purchased as NFTs, which can be redeemed for physical products delivered to the customers’ home.

Nike Increases Revenue & Continues to Spend on Sponsorships

Nike announced their earnings this week which saw nearly $11B in revenue, their most ever which increased 5% YoY. Utilizing the revenue, Nike was able to dive deeper into sponsorships increasing their total deals 36% from 2020 to 2021. The brand debuted their first ever 3D out of home campaign in the city of Shinjuku near Tokyo, Japan, celebrating AirMax day on March 26th. 

Nike has over 650 sponsorship deals ranging across over 140 different leagues/associations. Within New York, their top market, the brand has over 75 sponsorship or media deals which includes influencers, athletes and artists.

Within the NFL, Nike helped the athletes grow in total endorsement deals 51% YoY. Across the globe, athletes account for 41% of the sponsorship portfolio of Nike as they have deals with many star players across multiple sports. Most recently with athletes, Nike teamed up with Lebron James and Magic Fruity Pebbles to celebrate National Cereal Day on March 7th.


Celebrities & Fanatics CEO to Acquire Mitchell & Ness

Fanatics has acquired lifestyle brand, Mitchell & Ness, the go-to hub for nostalgic sports jerseys and headwear. Fanatics has taken over the game for daily sports apparel and this new partnership will propel both brands in the lifestyle and fan based space. Jay-Z, Meek Mill, Lil Baby, Maverick Carter as well as the famous Tik-Tok family, the D’Amelio’s and others, have also acquired partial ownership in the brand in an announcement made earlier this morning.

From 2020 to 2021 Fanatics added over 70 new sponsorship / media deals while securing more than 30 new sponsorship deals alone. According to SponsorUnited, their current portfolio includes 19% of deals in the NHL, 17% in the MLB and 16% in the NFL followed by the NCAA. Fanatics also owns Majestic, a designer of athletic apparel and team uniforms as well as Steiner Sports, a sports memorabilia business.

Fanatics will be adding to their current sponsorship roster, vendor and media portfolios bringing in over 130 new deals to their business. 55% of Mitchell & Ness’s sponsorship deals are in the NBA while more than 12 of their sponsorship / media deals are in New York which is also their top market. Mitchell & Ness had a deal with the MLB during the 2021 season which saw their brand integrated into emails deployed to fans.