Gatorade is signing its first-ever college athlete to an endorsement deal as the prolific sponsor capitalizes on a recent NCAA rule change to increase its influence in women’s sports.
Paige Bueckers, the 20-year-old basketball phenom at the University of Connecticut, agreed to a multiyear deal with the PepsiCo Inc.-owned sports drink to join its athlete roster. As part of the arrangement, she’ll promote the brand in television commercials, social posts, product collaborations and events, with a focus on boosting women’s basketball. The parties declined to disclose financial terms of the agreement.
Bueckers is one of the top student-athletes in all of college sports, earning player of the year honors in 2021 with projections of becoming a top pick in the Women’s National Basketball Association draft when she becomes eligible in 2023. She joins a Gatorade roster with several of the world’s top active women’s athletes, including tennis icon Serena Williams, two-time WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne and Olympic gold-medal hurdler Sydney McLaughlin.
“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,” Bueckers said in an email.
On the court, Bueckers follows a long line of superstars from UConn’s storied program that’s won 11 national championships, following all-time greats like Diana Taurasi and Breanna Stewart. Her predecessors, however, weren’t permitted to land similar paydays while still in school, due to longtime restrictions imposed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.