STORRS, Connecticut — Editor's note: The video above first aired in February of 2020.
Star University of Connecticut women's basketball player Paige Bueckers isn't known for her love of finishing anywhere but the top.
In just one year of college hoops the Minnesota native has won just about every award that's out there, from the 2021 John Wooden award as the nation's top female basketball player to AP Player of the Year.
So it should come as no surprise that the one-time Hopkins High School phenom has notched another first: Bueckers is the first college athlete ever to sign a marketing deal with sports beverage giant Gatorade. She joins a star-studded marketing roster that includes tennis great Serena Williams, NBA upstart Zion Williamson and NFL quarterback and rising star Trevor Lawrence.
“It was a blessing to win Gatorade Player of the Year in high school, and now it’s truly surreal to be an official member of the Gatorade Family,” said Bueckers in a released statement. “I know this is just the beginning of our partnership and can’t wait to get to work with Gatorade to drive impact in the community and on the women’s game.”
At this point it is unclear what the deal with Gatorade, first announced by ESPN's Nick DePaula, is worth to Bueckers. But earlier this year the Wall Street journal estimated that the star guard could make up to $1 million per year striking NIL (name, image, likeness) deals.
This is Bueckers' second major NIL deal signed this month. Earlier in November she signed a multi-year deal with StockX, a footwear and apparel marketplace platform. She also hired an agent in August and trademarked “Paige Buckets,” which she intends to use for a clothing line.
College athletes began signing NIL agreements in July after the NCAA relaxed its eligibility rules under pressure from athletes and their representatives, who maintain schools were making millions of dollars off their names, images and likenesses.