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Jackson State's Antwan Owens Becomes 1st D1 Player to Sign NIL Contract

Blake SchusterContributor IJuly 1, 2021

MEMPHIS, TN - SEPTEMBER 14: A JSU branded helmet on the sideline prior to the Southern Heritage Classic game between the Jackson State University Tigers and the Tennessee State Tigers on Saturday September 14, 2019 at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, TN.  (Photo by Nick Tre. Smith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Nick Tre. Smith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The race to see which college athlete will become the first to sign an endorsement deal as the NCAA's name, image and likeness policy takes hold on Thursday is over, though the winner may be in dispute.

Jackson State defensive end Antwan Owens staked his claim to the title by agreeing to a sponsorship deal with 3 Kings Grooming. Owens signed with the Black-owned hair product company in a midnight ceremony in New York City, according to Ross Dellenger of Sports Illustrated. 

Ross Dellenger @RossDellenger

An <a href="https://twitter.com/SInow?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@SINow</a> Exclusive | Antwan Owens, a Jackson State D-end, just became the nation’s first athlete to sign an NIL deal.<br><br>In a midnight ceremony in NYC, he inked with Three Kings Grooming, a black-owned hair product shop.<br><br>“Somebody pinch me!” he tells SI.<a href="https://t.co/4iQJb3Sll1">https://t.co/4iQJb3Sll1</a> <a href="https://t.co/UjTSdNc82C">pic.twitter.com/UjTSdNc82C</a>

“Somebody pinch me!” Owens told Dellenger. “This is something that’s going to be life changing, generationally life changing.”

It's unclear how much Owens will earn from the deal.

All across social media on Wednesday, college athletes offered up their services—or advertised for upcoming events once NIL is officially enacted. 

BOOMINIowaFireworks @IowaBoomin

The worlds coolest Fireworks store <a href="https://twitter.com/IowaBoomin?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@IowaBoomin</a> is excited to welcome the worlds best 3 pt shooter <a href="https://twitter.com/JordanBo_3?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JordanBo_3</a> tomorrow July 1st at 4:30. Come meet JBo, get his autograph, buy some fireworks &amp; get entered into a raffle for signed Memorabilia. RED WHITE &amp; BOOMIN!!!!!💣💥 <a href="https://t.co/JgcTN5CQOr">pic.twitter.com/JgcTN5CQOr</a>

Olivia Dunne @livvydunne

NIL rules change tomorrow… let’s get to work🤝

Front Office Sports @FOS

Miami Hurricanes quarterback D'Eriq King has signed an NIL deal with College Hunks Hauling Junk, per <a href="https://twitter.com/Schultz_Report?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Schultz_Report</a>.<br><br>The deal will net King $20,000. <a href="https://t.co/BmMTQPWxmn">pic.twitter.com/BmMTQPWxmn</a>

Arguing over which player signed a deal first may become a fun talking point, but the larger goal of athletes finally getting to profit off their name, likeness and image is a victory for college stars every where. 

Owens is one of the first examples, and he will be far from the last.  

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