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South Carolina's Zia Cooke Is One Of The Highest Paid Athletes In College Basketball

South Carolina's Zia Cooke Is One Of The Highest Paid Athletes In College Basketball

She’s advocating for more athletes to get their coin!

Zia Cooke is an NCAA champion and one of the highest paid athletes in college basketball, CBS News reports. 

Cooke is a junior guard for the University of South Carolina’s women’s basketball team. Not only is she the leading scorer for the team, which recently won the 2022 NCAA tournament, she is also one of the highest paid athletes in college basketball. 

Opendorse, a Nebraska based site that tracks NIL (name, image and likeness) deals, recently released new data revealing that women basketball players are the second highest paid college athletes, college football players ranking first and men basketball players coming in at third. 

The college athletes are benefitting from the ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court last year allowing them to finally control and make money off of their name, image and likeness. The NIL legislation has been game changing, sparking a new frontier of tech companies and brand partnerships from Bojangles to global footwear brands and even crypto companies, all looking to support college athletes in monetizing their brands. 

Cooke has done a little bit of it all and now she’s advocating for other college athletes, especially women, to take advantage as well and cash in on the sponsorships that could help take them to the next level. 

“It just shows that we can do a lot of things that a lot of people say we can’t do. To see all the girls on [the Opendorse list] for the NIL and I think it was just one boy it shows that we can do literally everything they can do. It’s a business and it’s super effective for women and men,” she told reporters. 

The basketball phenom has nearly 230,000 followers on Instagram alone, pricing advertising posts on her social media page for other brands at $8,000 a pop. The highest potential earner on her USC team, Cooke recently partnered with H&R Block in her largest deal to date. 

“[It was] super, super fun. It gave me a chance to show who I am for one minute. I’ve done DoorDash, which was also super fun. I did Bojangles deals, and I’ve done Fenty Skin, Rihanna’s line, so I have quite a bit and it’s just the beginning. I’m excited for what else is in store,” said Cooke. 

Despite her success, the 21-year-old knows that she has a larger goal in mind and is really just focused on playing her best and building her brand. As for the money she makes off of all these new NIL deals - Cooke hasn’t even touched it. 

“I really don’t even want to know how much money I have. I haven’t looked at the account since I’ve started. Now I’m just trying to stay focused on my best work… I want to save because once you see the prices, like you want to buy stuff like that,” she explained. 

One thing is for sure, Zia Cooke has a bright future on and off the court. 

Photo Courtesy of Zia Cook/Twitter