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Nike Expands Megan Rapinoe Partnership, Signs First College Athlete

Nike revealed plans to ramp up its partnership with soccer star Megan Rapinoe last week.

In the immediate term, the Victoria’s Secret ambassador has curated a small collection from Nike’s broader Fall/Holiday ’21 line. Starting next fall, however, the company plans to introduce apparel with a new “Victory Redefined” logo. A collection co-created by the OL Reign captain and Nike’s designers is currently scheduled for 2023.

“When I spoke with Nike about the next chapter in our relationship, what excited us most was building something new,” Rapinoe said in a statement. “Not a new product. Not a new campaign. But a new model for athlete partnerships.”

Nike said the journey it’s on with Rapinoe “signals a major shift in how we partner with athletes” and could be a “blueprint” for others. “Between the Nike brand and Megan’s powerful voice, this partnership has the potential to be a lightning rod for change in sport,” Nike added.

Rapinoe's Victory Redefined logo "is inspired by Megan’s ambition to redefine what victory means for all communities and all people," Nike said.

Rapinoe’s Victory Redefined logo “is inspired by Megan’s ambition to redefine what victory means for all communities and all people,” Nike said.

Despite Rapinoe’s athletic background, it appears her work with Nike will tend toward lifestyle and comfort. The curated assortment of “Megan Rapinoe’s Favorites” now available on the company’s e-commerce site, includes an oversize fleece sweater, a tonal reflective poncho and a leopard-print Nike Pro sports bra.

“I think when we all win and not just one person, everyone’s better off and with this I wanted to speak for people or represent people that don’t always have the microphone or don’t always have the platform and just do something fun and totally smash the paradigm,” Rapinoe said in a video on her Instagram. “The whole vibe is going to be different. I feel cool in it, I feel sexy, I feel comfortable. I feel like it speaks for me.”

Rapinoe is no stranger to fashion. In 2019, she joined forces with Christen Press, Tobin Heath, and Meghan Klingenberg, all current or former players on the U.S. national women’s soccer team, to launch Re—Inc. Though the brand has since become a platform that also sells home goods and accessories, its central business is apparel “for all gender identities and body types.”

Nike signs its first NIL deal

When a summer rule change opened the gates for college athletes to begin benefiting from their name, image and likeness (NIL) back in July, many athletes almost immediately unveiled new sponsorship deals.

For a while, these deals tended to be mostly small and localized in nature as the largest sportswear brands seemed to wait on the sidelines. In early September, however, Yahoo Finance reported that Under Armour CEO Patrik Frisk had confirmed his company would participate in signing student athletes. In October, ESPN reported that Puma had reached a footwear and apparel endorsement deal with 17-year-old basketball player Mikey Williams.

Last week, Nike announced it had signed its first student athlete sponsorship deal with UCLA sophomore Reilyn Turner. A forward on the Bruins’ women’s soccer team, Turner was crowned Pac-12 Freshman of the Year last year.

Nike signed its first student athlete sponsorship deal with women's soccer star Reilyn Turner

Nike signed its first student athlete sponsorship deal with women’s soccer star Reilyn Turner.

“As a Black woman and Mexican American, I think about those who have paved the way for me and how they used their platforms to create so much change, even beyond sport,” Turner said in a statement. “I hope to be a role model for those around me and those after me, and I’m so excited to be a part of what Nike is bringing to the future of women’s sport.”

Though Nike did not unveil any additional student-athlete sponsorships, the company did signal more will come, noting that all future agreements with U.S. college student athletes will include “an element that connects back to their local communities.”

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