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Football Player Signs NIL Deal to Promote Local Candidate

  • Dresser Winn, a quarterback at the University of Tennessee at Martin, signed a deal to support the candidacy of Colin Johnson.
  • Winn said he wore a campaign shirt during a football camp that he ran and posted on social media.
Dresser Winn
Front Office Sports Today

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September 21, 2023 | Podcast
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The concept and governance of name, image, and likeness has always been highly politicized. But the deals themselves have largely stayed out of politics — until now.

Dresser Winn, a quarterback at the University of Tennessee at Martin, has signed a partnership to support the candidacy of Colin Johnson, who is running for District Attorney General for Tennessee’s 27th Judicial District. 

The deal is considered to be the first to support a political candidate. It’s also an example of how athletes who may not have major followings or a Power 5 platform can ink partnerships in their community, as one of Winn’s agents, Dale Hutcherson, pointed out on Twitter.

The deal was born when both of Winn’s agents, Dale and Sam Hutcherson, came up with the idea and presented it to him, he told Front Office Sports. 

“I’ve been lifelong friends with Colin. He’s always supported me,” he said. From there, it was an easy decision to sign with the candidate.

As part of the partnership, Winn said he wore a campaign shirt during a football camp that he ran last weekend. On Monday, his announcement on Twitter included photos of himself and Johnson — both of whom were wearing campaign apparel — spending time on a football field. The tweet encouraged voters to ensure they were registered for the August election. 

As for future promotions, Winn said they’re going to “see how things go from here.”

Winn declined to disclose financial terms of the deal.

The partnership may be the first NIL deal with a candidate — but it’s not the first time an athlete has partnered with a government entity. 

Several athletes, including women’s basketball players Zia Cooke and Sedona Prince, have posted COVID-19 vaccine PSAs paid for by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Alabama Department of Health ran a similar campaign.

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