Sports | May 24, 2022 11:37 am

Tennessee College QB Signs First-Ever NIL Deal to Support Political Candidate

University of Tennessee-Martin quarterback Dresser Winn is endorsing Colin Johnson for District Attorney General

Tennessee-Martin quarterback Dresser Winn looks to pass the ball. Winn signed the first-ever name, image and likeness deal to support a political candidate.
Tennessee-Martin quarterback Dresser Winn looks to pass the ball.
Scott Kane/Icon Sportswire via Getty

In a development that could have had far-reaching implications had it occurred when Tim Tebow was still playing quarterback for the Florida Gators, a college signal-caller has reached a name, image and likeness (NIL) deal to endorse a Tennessee politician for office.

In an announcement on social media, University of Tennessee at Martin quarterback Dresser Winn revealed he’ll be supporting Colin Johnson for District Attorney General in the 27th Judicial District of Tennessee. Winn, who was allegedly already a Johnson supporter before the two parties reached an NIL deal, will be part of Johnson’s ad campaign via social media posts.

A three-star quarterback coming out of high school in 2017, Winn is believed to be the first college student-athlete to strike an NIL deal with a political candidate.

“Colin is a lifelong friend and has always supported me in all of my endeavors,” Winn told On3. “It was a no-brainer to help support his candidacy and encourage my followers to register to vote. So glad we could be the first of this kind of NIL deal with such a good person.”

While it’s unclear exactly what compensation Winn, who has attempted 142 passes in 21 games over the course of his career and is in line to be named the starter for the UT Martin SkyHawks this fall, is receiving for his support of Johnson as well as how impactful his support will be on the race, it’s interesting that NIL has now moved into the world of politics. Now that the move has occurred, other players at bigger-name schools with broader influence than Winn may start to be recruited for their endorsements.

“I suppose anything is possible,” Darren Heitner, a lawyer and NIL advocate, told On3. “If there’s value for the politician and the athlete is aligned in ideology, then why not? It could rub some fans the wrong way if they support a different candidate or party.”