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zia cooke

Source: C. Morgan Engel / Getty

Thanks to college athletes now being able to sign endorsement deals, and her own personal hard work and success, Zia Cooke is now one of the highest-paid college athletes in the Final Four. 

Playing as a junior guard and leading scorer for the University of South Carolina’s women’s basketball team — which just won the women’s NCAA March Madness tournament earlier this month — Cooke’s sponsorships deals include ties with big-named corporations across various industries.

RELATED CONTENT: “The South Carolina Gamecocks Win 2022 Women’s NCAA Championship Under Coach Dawn Staley”

Opendorse’s recently released data outlined that in terms of compensation, the earnings of collegiate women’s basketball players only come second to that of collegiate football players.

“It just shows that we can do a lot of things that a lot of people say we can’t do,” Cooke told CBS News about acquiring her sponsorships. “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.” 

“I feel like a lot of people actually do love women’s basketball. It’s just hard for them to admit it, which I don’t know why,” the 21-year-old said. “But I think that the paper shows it all, the stats. The stats show it all.” 

Cooke’s Instagram boasts over 226,000 Followers and her posts are valued at around $8,000 each, according to Bloomberg.

Speaking on her most recent sponsored partnership, with H&R Block and her biggest deal yet, Cooke said, “It gave me a chance to show who I am for one minute.”

“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,” the basketball player told CBS News.

“I really don’t even want to know how much money I have,” the young player admitted. “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.”

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