Deion Sanders’ son, Shedeur, signs deal with Gatorade

Sanders, 19, is the first HBCU student-athlete to join the sports drink company's name-image-likeness deal roster.

In what is being described as a historic deal, Jackson State University quarterback Shedeur Sanders has announced a lucrative name-image-likeness agreement with Gatorade. 

Sanders — the son of NFL icon and current Jackson State football coach Deion Sanders — is now the first HBCU athlete to be added to the sports drink company’s NIL roster. He is in good company, joining tennis giant Serena Williams, NBA players Jayson Tatum and Zion Williamson, plus the WNBA’s Candace Parker, to name a few. 

Shedeur Sanders of the Jackson State Tigers warms up prior to facing the South Carolina State Bulldogs in the Cricket Celebration Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in December in Atlanta. (Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The 19-year-old quarterback is the second collegiate athlete to sign a deal with the company, following UConn women’s basketball star Paige Bueckers

In his role with Gatorade, the young QB will help to increase national exposure for HBCU programs and athletes during the multi-year partnership. He said the deal will “definitely be helping other HBCUs. This is about the numbers. It’s about to go crazy. So right now, we’re still planning on the exact details. I’ll just let you know whenever we got things finalized.”

Sanders told HBCU Nation, a subsidiary of Sports Illustrated, that he is “honored to be a part of the Gatorade family. First and foremost, I’m blessed. It’s a great opportunity. As a kid, I was drinking Gatorade regularly. So now that we have the opportunity to partner with them and be a part of Gatorade, I’m very blessed.” 

After years of pushback from student-athletes and fans, the NCAA adopted a liberal name, image and likeness policy in 2021, allowing student-athletes to earn money while they are still attending college. 

While schools cannot pay student-athletes directly, active players may now strike deals with outside agencies and companies. The rule came after legislation was introduced in 2019 in California by state Sen. Nancy Skinner, per ESPN. After much deliberation and court battles, the NCAA adopted the popular new rules. 

As for Sanders, he has already made his mark, leading his squad to the 2021 Southwestern Athletic Conference Championship, winning the 2021 Jerry Rice Award as the nation’s top Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) freshman player and acknowledged by the SWAC as its “Freshman of the Year” for 2021.

Chauncey Hamlett, the chief marketing officer and vice president of PepsiCo Beverages North America, South Division, said in a statement: “As one of the country’s best freshmen college football players, Shedeur Sanders is another incredible addition to the Gatorade Family.” 

“In his first year at Jackson State University, he’s already demonstrated the excellence and tenacity Gatorade athletes are known for,” said Hamlett, “and we’re excited to partner with him and build upon our commitment of supporting HBCUs and their athletes.”

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