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TikTok Stars and Elite College Athletes: The Twins Every Brand Wants to Sponsor

This Friday marks one year since the United States allowed college athletes to sign trade agreements. The Cavinder twins took the most advantage of it, earning a fortune from their millions of followers and their basketball talents.

01 July 2022 12.02

One year ago, on July 1, 2021, Fresno State basketball stars Haley and Hanna Cavinder officially ushered in the name, image and likeness era of college sports. Both signed sponsorships with Boost Mobile and Six Star Pro Nutrition at 12:01 AM, when active athletes from the National Association of Collegiate Athletes (NCAA) of the United States they were allowed for the first time to sign endorsement deals.

Now with 5 million social media followers and a new home at the University of Miami, after announcing in April that they were transferring, the Cavinder twins continue to lead the way.

the cavinder twins
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In the last 12 months, the 21-year-old sisters have amassed associations with 31 brands, including Crocs, GoPuff and Venmo. Darren Heitner, an attorney who works with the twins and a former Forbes contributor, recently told the New York Post that had already earned more than $1 million. Forbes estimates that the Cavinders have set aside a total of $1.7 million in settlements before taxes and agent fees, including cash they have yet to collect.

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That puts them near the top of the heap in all college sports. Chase Garrett, founder and CEO of Icon Source, an endorsement marketplace through which the Cavinders have landed some of their deals, says the twins are among the top 10 highest-earning NCAA athletes on his platform and all their endorsements. contracts at Icon Source. So far, they have exceeded US $ 10,000well above the platform average of $2,600.

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It’s been a whirlwind, but I’m super grateful for it, Haley Cavinder tells Forbes from Miami, where she and her sister are taking two kinesiology courses this summer before their senior year. We have learned a lot this year, and there is much more to come.he adds.

sponsorship of college athletes

The chain of events that led to the NCAA loosening its rules on amateurism last summer began with the passage of the California Fair Pay to Play Act in 2019. It promised college athletes in the state that they could soon maintain their eligibility to play while signing endorsements. The Cavinders began their college careers that same year in Fresno, but the law was not on their radar.

the cavinder twins
the cavinder twins

It was not until June 2021, when a landmark Supreme Court ruling in NCAA vs. Alston challenged NCAA restrictions on athlete compensation. It was at this time that the twins began to hear rumors that college athletes would be able to benefit from their name, image and likeness for the first time. Finally, on June 30, the NCAA announced an interim NIL policy that allows sponsorship deals, which went into effect a day after.

For the Cavinders, the timing was fortuitous.. Hanna Cavinder had started posting content on TikTok as a way to pass the time during the pandemic. She then recruited Haley to join her account. They quickly attracted thousands of followers with their videos showcasing their dance and basketball skills. This made them ideal targets for brands suddenly circling college waters.

The twins’ father, Tom, who had played college basketball at Nova Southeastern, approached Garrett. He advised that they prepare their Icon Source profiles in case of a rule change and negotiated the connection with Boost Mobile. Tom Cavinder also connected with Heitner, who had helped Florida craft the NIL legislation that passed in 2020 and who introduced the twins to Six Star. Contracts were drafted and ready to work when the clock struck midnight on July 1.

The story of the Cavinder twins

The sisters planned to be in New York so they could sign agreements at the earliest possible moment. But when a storm stopped their flight in Pennsylvania, they had to sign in through the airport Wi-Fi. They then hopped into an Uber and arrived in New York just a couple of hours before their first session with Six Star at 6 AM for a social media announcement.

The same morning, the twins appeared on ABC’s CBS, ESPN and Good Morning America, as well as on a Times Square billboard that Icon Source rented for its first batch of NCAA sponsors. They were already stars.

the cavinder twins
the cavinder twins

Six Star, which had always used professional athletes to market its supplements and even signed a deal for 2021 with cheerleaders which were not subject to NCAA restrictions on marketing agreements at the time. I wanted to cause a sensation.

The company initially wanted to sign Connecticut basketball star Paige Bueckers, but knew it was unlikely to move quickly enough for a July 1 deal. since I hired an agent and weighed the offers of the main brands.

So Six Star shifted their focus to the Cavinder, who had a considerable audience and praise on the court. Haley was the 2020-21 Mountain West Player of the Year, and Hanna had been on two all-conference teams. Plus, they came in a two-for-one package.

Jake Duhaime, who oversees athlete and influencer marketing at Six Star through his role as communications lead for Iovate Health Sciences, was also attached. impressed by the sophistication of the Cavinder’s offering for brands.

Jeff Hoffman, the twins’ agent at Everett Sports Marketing, notes that they can post videos on TikTok, where they now have 4 million followers in your joint account, or stream on TikTok Live.

On Instagram, where they have nearly 900,000 followers across three accounts, they can also broadcast live or post to their feeds, like a story or reel. On YouTube (72,000 subscribers), they can post longer or shorter YouTube videos. There’s also Twitter, where the sisters have more than 22,000 followers between them.

Each platform is priced differently, opening the twins up to a variety of marketing budgets and contract lengths. From a single social media post to a two-year partnership, as in the case of retailer Champs Sports and wrestling promotion WWE. There are also opportunities for television commercials, live appearances, and speaking engagements. That cross-platform appeal is off the chartsDuhaime says.

The future of the sisters

Hoffman, who says the deals have become more lucrative over the past year as more brands have poured into the space, focuses on closing long-term deals into “blockbuster” categories like water sports and activewear so the Cavinders can explore less traditional categories.

The twins are convinced that their move to Miami was all about basketball and finding a program where they can participate in a deep NCAA tournament. However, it’s easy to see how the larger market and media exposure of an Atlantic Coast Conference program could boost your business. And basketball isn’t necessarily the long-term goal. While both Cavinders say they won’t turn down an opportunity in the WNBA, It’s not a sure thing either given his height. Now, they have other interests, including fitness and real estate.

Both are enjoying their experience as entrepreneurs, after announcing in January that they would become co-owners of a streetwear company called Baseline Team that sells basketball shorts emblazoned with varsity team logos. They also haven’t touched the money they’ve earnedinvesting it all through his parents’ financial advisers.

However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t enjoying doing it. Female athletes deserve fairness in their sport, and I think NIL has shown that in the last year we have equal opportunities, Hanna Cavinder told Forbes. And I concluded: So, Being able to be at the forefront of that is something that Haley and I take pride in..

*Note originally published in Forbes USA.

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