How Olivia Dunne, LSU gymnast and the highest-paid woman in college sports, makes and spends her millions (2024)

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This is 20-year-old gymnast Olivia Dunne, who has harnessed a massive social media following to become a millionaire through NIL deals. Dunne is a star athlete for the LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and has competed at gymnastics championships at the state and national levels over many years. Gymnastics piqued her interest as early as 3 years old because she wanted to wear sparkly leotards. She appears to like everything that comes with the sport as 'Livvy' designs some of her own outfits — with sparkles, of course. A former junior national team member, Dunne — as of 2022 — is the highest-valued women's college athlete. Away from the gym mats, she has numerous activities and hobbies to keep her busy. Dunne has amassed a substantial following on TikTok, Snapchat, and Instagram. She parlayed her sporting prowess and popularity on social media into a significant NIL deal. Another key turning point in Olivia Dunne's career was when she signed terms with the Hollywood talent agency WME. Sponsorship deals with well-known brands swiftly followed. She makes a lot of money, spends some, and seems to re-invest in herself and her business. In 2021, Dunne earned the honor of All-American in bars — her favorite event. Her popularity soared so much that LSU hired a bodyguard for her this year. She recently spoke with other popular college athletes on the perils of fame from a young age. Dunne won't graduate until 2024, but it's clear she wants to be a role model for younger women in college sports References

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How Olivia Dunne, LSU gymnast and the highest-paid woman in college sports, makes and spends her millions (1)

  • Meet 20-year-old gymnast, internet sensation, and millionaire Olivia Dunne.
  • Dunne earned an athletic scholarship to LSU and wants to be a role model to younger girls.
  • She has big endorsem*nt deals with clothing brands American Eagle, Forever 21, and Vuori.

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This is 20-year-old gymnast Olivia Dunne, who has harnessed a massive social media following to become a millionaire through NIL deals.

How Olivia Dunne, LSU gymnast and the highest-paid woman in college sports, makes and spends her millions (2)

NCAA sports has been upended since student-athletes were allowed to profit from their NIL, shorthand for "name, image, and likeness." Whereas college athletes a generation ago were not allowed to make money off of their athletic fame — they'd forfeit their amateur status and thus, their NCAA eligibility — today's athletes are free to cash in on endorsem*nt deals with companies (but still not directly from schools).

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Dunne is a star athlete for the LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and has competed at gymnastics championships at the state and national levels over many years.

How Olivia Dunne, LSU gymnast and the highest-paid woman in college sports, makes and spends her millions (3)

She earned a full scholarship with LSU in 2019.

Source: Fox News.

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She appears to like everything that comes with the sport as 'Livvy' designs some of her own outfits — with sparkles, of course.

How Olivia Dunne, LSU gymnast and the highest-paid woman in college sports, makes and spends her millions (4)

On her love for fashion design, she said she enjoys "participating in the design" of her custom leotards.

"I get to work on everything from the original sketches to fabric selection with my coach, [Jen Clark]," she said.

"It is so exciting when the finished designs win leotard contests and online polls. I love to see my ideas come to life."

Source: LivvyDunne.com.

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A former junior national team member, Dunne — as of 2022 — is the highest-valued women's college athlete.

How Olivia Dunne, LSU gymnast and the highest-paid woman in college sports, makes and spends her millions (5)

To go with her titles as a junior, she won silver at the NCAA's SEC Championship in 2021, and bronze in 2023.

Source: On3.

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Away from the gym mats, she has numerous activities and hobbies to keep her busy.

She likes creative writing, fashion, golf, surfing, and, naturally, social media.

Source: LivvyDunne.comand Instagram.

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Dunne has amassed a substantial following on TikTok, Snapchat, and Instagram.

How Olivia Dunne, LSU gymnast and the highest-paid woman in college sports, makes and spends her millions (6)

On those three platforms alone, Dunne has a combined following of approximately 12.5 million fans.

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She parlayed her sporting prowess and popularity on social media into a significant NIL deal.

How Olivia Dunne, LSU gymnast and the highest-paid woman in college sports, makes and spends her millions (7)

Photo by Getty Images

The NIL rule change — that took effect in 2021 — meant NCAA athletes could secure income from sponsorships when using their image.

This has benefited numerous athletes, with Dunne helping lead the way when it comes to young women athletes capitalizing on their internet fame.

At the time of the rule change, Dunne was the most followed NCAA athlete across all social media platforms with 4.1 million fans.

"That's the moment my life changed," said Dunne.

Source: People.

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Another key turning point in Olivia Dunne's career was when she signed terms with the Hollywood talent agency WME.

How Olivia Dunne, LSU gymnast and the highest-paid woman in college sports, makes and spends her millions (8)

WME Sports — the talent agency which lists Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic as clients — announced in 2021 that it had signed Dunne as its first-ever NIL athlete.

—WME Sports (@WME_Sports) August 19, 2021

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Sponsorship deals with well-known brands swiftly followed.

How Olivia Dunne, LSU gymnast and the highest-paid woman in college sports, makes and spends her millions (9)

Dunne then sealed endorsem*nt deals with fashion chains Forever 21, American Eagle, and Vuori, which, according to Forbes, is worth "six figures" alone.

She posted an infographic on her Instagram in 2022 that suggested she had made $2.3 million in NIL — considerably more than other famous college athletes Sunisa Lee, Paige Bueckers, and the Cavinder twins.

Dunne is behind only other prodigious sporting talents, like Bronny James (son of LeBron) — 17-year-old quarterback Arch Manning (nephew of Peyton and Eli) and Crimson Tide star Bryce Young when it comes to total NIL earnings.

Dunne is loath to reveal exactly how much she banks but said she's "very grateful to be making seven figures" per year.

The NIL revolution is particularly important for gymnasts, she said, because athletes in that sport "peak when you're about 15 years old."

She said: "After college, there's nothing really for gymnasts.

"There's so many professional leagues for men's sports after college, but there's such a small timeframe for women to capitalize."

Elsewhere, Dunne signed deals with GrubHub, Madden/EA Sports, TooFaced cosmetics, and Nate app.

Source: Forbes, The Sun, New York Times, New York Post, and People.

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She makes a lot of money, spends some, and seems to re-invest in herself and her business.

How Olivia Dunne, LSU gymnast and the highest-paid woman in college sports, makes and spends her millions (10)

Despite being from the East Coast, Dunne has shown a love for the West Coast burger chain, In-N-Out.

She also loves the beach, vacationing in Florida and Hawaii, and going on shopping trips for designer bags, shoes, and outfits.

Part of her expenditure, though, appears to be re-investment — in herself, and her business — as she buys make-up for the social media content she is obligated to film for the lifestyle brands she endorses, and material for the leotards she designs for gymnastics events.

Source: LivvyDunne.com.

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In 2021, Dunne earned the honor of All-American in bars — her favorite event.

How Olivia Dunne, LSU gymnast and the highest-paid woman in college sports, makes and spends her millions (11)

Despite the rising popularity and the business deals, Dunne remained a force in sports and earned the coveted All-American recognition in her favorite event — the uneven bars — by scoring 9.90 on her routine at the NCAA National Championships in Texas.

Watch the winning routine right here:

Source: LSU Sports.

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Her popularity soared so much that LSU hired a bodyguard for her this year.

How Olivia Dunne, LSU gymnast and the highest-paid woman in college sports, makes and spends her millions (12)

LSU coach Jay Clark said Dunne's rising popularity and fervent fanbase raised security concerns at events, so LSU hired a bodyguard to accompany her and the team at events.

"That [bodyguard] will be in our hotel and outside our locker room and getting us to and from the bus at the venue," Clark said, adding the security officer "will be there to createa perimeter that keeps everybody safe.

"We want to be accessible to our fans with autographs and kids, but we also don't want to bury our heads in the sand.We want to make sure everybody is safe at all times."

Clark said they also revised rules to allow the school's female athletes to interact with their families, but restrict the time they can interact with fans in the stands.

"We want to make sure we still provide them with that time with their families, but there won't be anymore going into the stands and there will be a limited amount of time that they can interact with the fans in the stands over the rail and that will be monitored closely," he said.

Source: The Advocate/Times-Picayune.

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She recently spoke with other popular college athletes on the perils of fame from a young age.

How Olivia Dunne, LSU gymnast and the highest-paid woman in college sports, makes and spends her millions (13)

Regarding negative attention, Dunne told fellow college athletes and influencers Haley and Hanna Cavinder: "With hate and stuff, I know this sounds cliché, but it's literally someone behind a phone screen."

"There is no deep thought or meaning behind it. At least that's how I feel."

Some of the hatred, Dunne said, comes from sorority girls who she said "don't like" her.

"There's always going to be girls that are going to be petty, frat boys that thing they're funny saying terrible things," she said.

Her family — and particularly her sister, Julz — is a key reason why she's able to rise above her haters.

"Having my sister, she's like my hype man, my teammate," Dunne said.

"Having a good system, a good group of people behind you that will always have your back.

"Family. That's what's most important."

Source:Twin Talk.

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Dunne won't graduate until 2024, but it's clear she wants to be a role model for younger women in college sports

How Olivia Dunne, LSU gymnast and the highest-paid woman in college sports, makes and spends her millions (14)

Dunne's time with LSU will come to an end in 2024 — four years after she graduated high school.

It's unclear whether she'll continue with a career in sports. However, judging from the way she speaks, it appears she wants to help younger athletes in their own journeys.

That can take many shapes and forms and could include sport-specific success, financial freedom, and internet fame.

"There was no roadmap of how to do school, your athletics, and social media all at the same time," she said. "There's really no one that's ever done it.

"And I figured I could change that. I could pave the way and be a good example to young girls that look up to me."

Source: USA Gym and People.

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How Olivia Dunne, LSU gymnast and the highest-paid woman in college sports, makes and spends her millions (2024)

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