Sabrina Ionescu, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 WNBA draft, has signed an exclusive multiyear endorsement deal with the sportswear giant as the new face of Nike Basketball.
This move has the potential to make Ionescu something of a pioneer as the sole current WNBA star with her signature shoe. According to Go Ducks editor Rob Moseley, the 22-year-old confirmed the news via a conference call with various media outlets.
The report doesn't come as a surprise, considering Ionescu's been on Nike's radar. A major college star, who's following over the years has grown. In her final year at Oregon, Ionescu's studied advertising and branding. During that tenure, she spoke candidly about The Swoosh's responsibility as a global brand, and more importantly, as her alma mater's merchandise partner.
"Everyone knows their commercials. Everyone knows kind of what they stand for, what they're lobbying for," Ionescu told Yahoo Sports', Cassandra Negley. "It's always equality (for) women in sport (and) in the race. And so that's why after we had talked and learned about that I thought it would be a perfect time to make some noise about (the jerseys)."
Her comments didn't go a miss as it went viral, within days, Nike debuted a $75 replica Oregon #20 basketball jersey, which sold out within hours. Ionescu didn't profit from the sales, but she believes this is a step in the right direction for women's sport.
"A lot of my teammates are highly known, and a lot of people would buy my teammates' (jerseys) and quite frankly a lot of other (women's) NCAA players from other schools," Ionescu said.
"So it wasn't necessarily just me wanting mine to be sold. That wasn't kind of the route of what I was trying to advocate for. It was more just the representation of women in sport should be out there. And Nike says they believe in equality — which they do — they should do something about it. And they did.
"It was awesome to see them come forth and put their money where their mouth is and advocate for that."
Ionescu shared disclosed to the media that she was contemplating between Nike, Puma and Under Armour. With Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry leading an active campaign to get her to sign with Under Armour.
"I have a great relationship with Steph and so that part's kind of hard," Ionescu said to reporters Logan Murdock and Kerith Burke. "Because I've been Nike for ten years. And then Puma's also kind of on the up-and-coming. So there's a lot of pros and cons to all of them. And so it's kind of been hard trying to figure out who I want to go with and what the best fit would be."
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