10 Things You Didn’t Know About Caitlin Clark, Basketball’s Newest Superstar

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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You don’t have to be sweating your March Madness bracket (or even tuned into a game) to know the name Caitlin Clark. After breaking a whole bunch of NCAA records over the past couple years, the 22-year-old Iowa Hawkeyes guard is arguably the most talked about athlete at the moment—in college or pro sports—and she’s drawing long-deserved attention to women’s basketball while she’s at it.

During her last home game on March 3, Clark casually became NCAA’s all-time leading scorer (out of men and women). Tickets to the sold-out game were the most expensive in the history of women’s basketball (both NCAA and WNBA)—not terribly surprising, considering other ones she’s played in have drawn record-breaking TV views, too. The 15,000 fans who came to watch Clark’s court dominance IRL that day included basketball great (and Clark’s childhood idol) Maya Moore, Jake from State Farm, and rapper Travis Scott.

And she’s only looking to add to all the accolades as March Madness continues: Clark’s right in the middle of her final NCAA championship run, leading her team to the Sweet Sixteen for the third time (the team’s fourth since 2019). The top-seeded Hawkeyes will face number-five seed Colorado Buffaloes on Sunday, March 30 at 3:30 p.m. EST, vying for a spot in the Elite Eight the next day. To brush up on everything you need to know about basketball’s fastest-rising star before then, here are a few fun facts to help you get started.

1. She’s been manifesting a basketball career since third grade.

Clark grew up playing competitive sports, including soccer and softball, but she’s had basketball specifically on her mind since at the age of nine. In an ESPN Inside Look interview, Clark shared a dream board she made in elementary school of her life goals, which included earning a basketball scholarship and playing in the WNBA. Check, check. (We’ll have to stay tuned on the “giant mansion” and “three to four kids.”)

2. Clark played on boys’ teams as a kid.

As the middle child, Clark grew up in a self-described “sports family,” and her dad was her first basketball coach. He recognized her advanced skills early on, and signed her up for boys’ teams so she could continue to be challenged. She played on the boys’ soccer and basketball teams longer than most teams remain co-ed—up until about sixth grade—and even won MVP one year. “I think it was super special in my development, and it was something that never fazed me,” she told ESPN. “It was just like, I’m a girl, I can hold my own, this is not anything I’ve been afraid of.”

3. Her brothers helped her reach her athletic potential.

Clark calls her brothers both her “biggest supporters” and “biggest haters at the same time,” telling ESPN with a laugh that they continue to humble her. In particular, she credits her older brother, whom she describes as always being “bigger, stronger, faster,” for pushing her athletically. “Whenever I wanted to play with him and his friends…I never won anything, and my mom always said if you want to play with them, you’ve got to find a way to hold your own,” she told ESPN.

4. She brings home more cash than any other women’s college basketball player.

In 2021, the NCAA enacted a rule allowing college players to make money from their name, image, and likeness (NIL). In other words, student-athletes can now get paid for social media brand deals, commercials, and other partnerships. The rule effectively launched the first college athlete influencers, and Clark is capitalizing on her moment.

Thanks to her 1.1 million Instagram followers and all that national attention, Clark has been a natural partner for major brands, including State Farm, Gatorade, and Nike. Her deals total $3.1 million since January 2022, according to the verified NIL deal tracker run by On3. This sum makes Clark the highest-earning NCAA women’s basketball player ever and the fourth highest-earning college athlete (behind men’s basketball players Bronny James and Shedeur Sanders and women’s gymnastics star Livvy Dune).

5. A marketing major helps her make the most of it.

When she’s not practicing free throws or pumping iron, you can catch Clark drafting a killer retail strategy. She’s an honors student majoring in marketing with a minor in communications studies at the University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business. And her campaign-riddled Instagram grid is simply proof that hitting those books is paying off.

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