University of South Carolina’s women’s basketball team player Zia Cooke has been named as one of the highest-paid college basketball players, CBS news reports. This was contained in data from Opendorse, revealing that women college basketball players are the second-highest-paid college athletes.
Last year, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling gave college athletes the right to control their name, image and likeness, and make money off it. The ruling effectively meant that college athletes can star in commercials or strike sponsorship deals with sports brands like Puma and Nike, among others.
“It just shows that we can do a lot of things that a lot of people say we can’t do,” Cooke, who is one of the highest-paid college basketball players in the Final Four, told CBS News. “To see all the girls on there 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.”
Women basketball players have a huge social media following, which means that they can cash in on commercial deals more than their male counterparts. For instance, Cooke has over 228,000 followers on Instagram and each commercial post she makes on her handle is valued at $8,000, according to Bloomberg.
The 21-year-old also recently partnered with H&R Block in her biggest deal to date, describing her experience with a global brand as “super fun.”
“It gave me a chance to show who I am for one minute,” she said. Cooke has also done deals with DoorDash, Bojangles and Fenty Skin. “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,” she said.
Asked what she does with her money, Cooke said she doesn’t even look at her account as she is trying to remain focused.
“I really don’t even want to know how much money I have,” she said. “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.”
Cooke became a national champion after South Carolina won the NCAA women’s basketball title over perennial power Connecticut, according to The Blade. She scored points and grabbed five rebounds in South Carolina’s second national title win in program history.
“I never knew if that was something I can do, but to win one, it’s just like a dream come true,” she said at the time. “That’s what little girls really, really dream of. So definitely happy and blessed for that.”