Olivia Dunne Discusses NIL Deals and TikTok Stardom: ‘I’m Very Grateful’

The LSU gymnast is today’s top-earning female college athlete.
Olivia Dunne

Olivia Dunne.

LSU gymnast Olivia Dunne recently opened up to NBC’s TODAY about her online fanbase and her success as an athlete.

Dunne revealed to The New York Times last year that she makes seven figures in name, image and likeness (NIL) deals, making her the highest-paid female college athlete today. 

“I’m very grateful to be making seven figures,” the 20-year-old said, confirming her earnings. “It is very cool that someone in college has the opportunity to do that now.”

On3, a digital media company which tracks college recruiting and NIL signings, estimates Dunne’s current NIL valuation at $3.2 million. That’s on top of her reach as a social media superstar—she has a combined 10.2 million TikTok and Instagram followers, where she often shares dance videos, gymnastics content, selfies and more.

“It’s hard to wrap my head around at times,” Dunne said of her rabid online fanbase.

Following LSU’s first meet of the season last month, the Tigers increased security measures moving forward after tons of Dunne’s followers showed up at the Jan. 6 event and caused a ruckus. 

“In the past, I’ve had some of my supporters come out to the meets and watch and cheer for LSU, but that was insane,” the college junior said of the overzealous crowd.

She noted that the team’s increased security measures include rules for athletes that prevent them from going into the stands after meets to keep Dunne and her teammates safe.

While some detractors have claimed female athletes like Dunne leverage their sexuality for endorsement dollars, she was quick to shut down any blame related to the nature of her content.

“As a woman, you’re not responsible for how a man looks at you and objectifies you,” she stated. “That’s not a woman’s responsibility.”

LSU gymnastics coach Jay Clark supported her statement. “If expression and self-expression is something that we value as a right in this country, then we have to be consistent when it doesn’t necessarily fit what our own agenda might be,” Clark said.

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Cara O’Bleness


Cara is a trending news writer/editor for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit. A passionate writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience in print and online media, she loves storytelling and believes that words have the power to change the world. Prior to joining the team, Cara worked as a writer and editor across a number of content verticals, including food, lifestyle, health and wellness, and small business and entrepreneurship. In her free time, Cara loves reading, spending time with her family and making her way through Michigan’s many microbreweries. She is a graduate of Michigan State University's School of Journalism.