Brittney Griner is having the best month ever. The 6-foot-8-inch phenom hasn’t received her degree from Baylor University yet and she’s already signed a deal with the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). The Phoenix Mercury drafted Griner No. 1 overall on April 18.
Now, the first NCAA player to block 500 shots has landed an exclusive endorsement deal with Nike. Lindsay Kagawa Colas, Griner’s sports agent, confirmed the news with USA Today Sports.
Griner described the deal as “big time” to USA Today Sports, but didn’t reveal the logistics of the contract.
All of this success and fame might seem overwhelming to most 22-year-olds, but Griner is handling it well.
“It’s humbling, it’s a true honor to be a part of this league,” she said during a WNBA draft press conference. “It’s a dream come true. I feel like a little kid in Disney World for the first time.”
The WNBA hopes Griner can be their franchise star, drawing in larger audiences and boosting ticket sales.
USA Today Sports reports:
Transforming the women’s professional game won’t come as easy. The challenge for Griner and the league she’s now the face of won’t be putting on a show, it’ll be drawing an audience. Following a season with an attendance-low of 7,457 fans per game, the WNBA has made Griner the focal point of a new era highlighted by a new logo and $12 million ESPN television deal.
Towering expectations await Griner in the WNBA. On the court, she’s expected to bolster a Mercury team that finished 7-27 last year with star guard Diana Taurasi sidelined. Off the court, the bigger goal will likely come with drawing endorsements, still uncommon in women’s team sports.
Griner has built an expansive base of support from fans and athletes alike, including Lebron James who compared her to NBA legend Wilt Chamberlain. “There’s really nobody that can match her,” he said when asked about Griner in an interview.
Hopefully Griner’s extraordinary talent translates into ticket sales and further endorsement opportunities.