Safe to say, most athletes have dreamed about that moment when they make a big play or capture a key result, and the roar of the crowd never ends.
Now multiply it as the moment goes viral on social media.
Next thing you know, everyone knows your name after you achieved a new level of athletic success.
That was Jared Casey in November 2021. Dreams became reality very, very quickly, he noted that “the moment was surreal, and I will never forget it.”
From Plainville, Kan. – about three and a half hours west of his college town, Lawrence – Casey earned a walk-on spot for the University of Kansas football team. The tight end, who played in nine games this past season, totaled eight catches, including two for touchdowns.
Yet, his most important catch did not actually count towards his official statistics – but counted for NIL.
In the 57-56 overtime win by the Jayhawks at Texas on Nov. 13, Casey hauled in a pass for the decisive two-point conversion with no time remaining on the game clock.
While the moment was big, it got even bigger the next morning. Jared’s brother, Justin, posted cellphone footage of their parents reacting to the big moment on Twitter. In the video, the viewer can hear his family incredulously watching the play and reacting in real-time. It gained more than 1 million views and unlocked the gravity of the moment.
That was all within 12-24 hours of the play.
Casey spoke with 6th Man Strategies following the Texas game and three days after his viral moment, Casey was filming a commercial with Applebee’s in Lawrence.
“I walked into the Applebees in Lawrence, and a commercial was set up. When I walked in, it was crazy to think that I would be in a commercial.”
According to The Kansas City Star, Casey earned a few hundred dollars in cash and $1,000 in Applebee’s gift cards for his part in the commercial.
A car dealership also contacted him for an endorsement opportunity. It has several locations in Kansas, including one in Hays near his hometown. Casey shared details of the deal, “for the car deal, I am being represented by Lewis Automotive Group. For this deal, I have to film a commercial, do a photoshoot, sign some autographs, and do a few other things. In return, I have received a 2022 Toyota Camry from them on a lease deal. It is pretty surreal as well.”
“Watching these pregame shows before our game at TCU was awesome. As a kid growing up, I always watched these shows in hopes to someday play football at the next level. Not only did my dream come true of playing DI football, but seeing myself on these shows was something I will never forget.”
An unknown walk-on turned into the most talked about athlete in his sport overnight.
“You never know who may want to represent you during the NIL era. It is important to stay ready at all times. As the next season approaches, I hope to earn some more NIL deals, too. It is really cool to be able to capitalize on these deals while playing the game that you love. In all, stay ready so you don’t have to get ready. Like I said, you may never know something will come about until it actually happens, so stay ready and be ready because it can happen in the blink of an eye.”
While not all athletes have that “big” of a moment, there will be a “moment” or two in everyone’s lives where a great opportunity appears. It may be sudden, but it’s a reflection of all the work put in. So, what does an athlete need to do to be ready for that moment when it comes to monetizing a personal brand in the NIL era?
Be ready to be followed
Every athlete should check their profile name. Is it your full name?
Search, find, and follow. That’s the equation to unlocking value around a personal brand on social media.
Athletes may not know when the big moment arrives. But they can control how quickly people can search, find, and follow them on social media today.
Know what’s on your timeline
For Casey, Applebee’s was one of those restaurants he went to growing up and still visits today. Applebee’s, with locations across the country, has a brand of “neighborhood grill and bar” with a casual and welcoming vibe for all.
Looking at Casey’s social media timeline or profile, his content showcases his family, a hard-working spirit to his athletic career, and someone who was proud of being from a small town.
That meant when Applebee’s reached out to do an endorsement deal with Casey, there was natural alignment . The conversation was an easy one.
Casey may not have posted about Applebee’s every day. However, NIL deals come about because there is alignment in brands. Their values match one another. The content he was sharing unlocked the deal with Applebee’s well before he even considered it.
Today, be intentional with what you post on social media. That’s building a brand.
How can people reach out to you?
While athletes can open their DMs, the most valuable real estate on an athlete’s social media is the “website” section in the profile. Placing an Opendorse Profile there not only lets brands and fans see more about you, it also makes you accessible. With a click of a green button, they can pitch an NIL opportunity directly with the athlete.
The athlete can then chat with the person who reached out and fulfill steps of the deal. This includes negotiating terms of a deal, submitting proof the activity, getting paid through the app, and disclosing the opportunity to the school’s compliance department, if necessary.
With one Profile link, an athlete can book, manage, and complete all NIL deals on Opendorse.