The NCAA Instagram Rich List: Top-10 Athletes in Earning Potential

The NCAA Instagram Rich List: Top-10 Athletes in Earning Potential article feature image

College sports attract millions of fans across the country, with total NCAA revenue reportedly worth a staggering $18.9 billion annually. And now that NCAA restrictions around athletes marketing their name, image, and likeness have recently been relaxed, the current selection of sports stars could be making thousands of dollars from social media brand deals. But which athletes have the greatest earning potential?

The top-10 college athletes by earning potential

College athletes are now permitted to cash in on their profile, but which 10 could be earning the most?

1. Shareef O’Neal, LSU Basketball

With an incredible Instagram following of over 2.7 million, Shaquille O’Neal’s oldest son could be cashing in over $10.8K per sponsored post.

2. Sunisa Lee, Auburn Gymnastics

With the second-highest engagement rate of all athletes (behind football player Caden Woodall), Olympic gold gymnast Sunisa Lee could be earning as much as $6,400 for each post she makes on Instagram.

3. Olivia Dunne, LSU Gymnastics

With over 1.3 million Instagram followers to her name, LSU gymnast Olivia Dunne is positioned to charge more than $5,200 for a sponsored post.

4. Shaqir O’Neal, TSU Basketball

Like his brother Shareef, Shaqir is continuing the O’Neal basketball dynasty. On top of that, the Texas Southern athlete’s 974K Instagram following should earn him a healthy $3,895 per post.

5. Paige Bueckers, UConn Basketball

A star for the incredible Huskies program, UConn’s Paige Bueckers could make over $3,600 for each Instagram post thanks to her 908K strong following.

6. Hailey Van Lith, Louisville Basketball

Making a name for herself playing for the Louisville women’s college basketball team, Hailey Van Lith has earned 706K Instagram followers and could charge up to $2,825 for each ad collaboration.

7. Jordan Chiles, UCLA Gymnastics

Olympian Jordan Chiles earned a silver medal in Tokyo 2020 as part of the successful U.S. gymnastics team. Her success has helped her pick up over 446K followers on Instagram, which allows her to charge $1,784 for a single paid promotion.

8. Jahvon Quinerly, Alabama Basketball

Transferring to the University of Alabama from Villanova in 2019, Jahvon Quinerly’s college prominence has helped him generate a healthy Instagram following of 444K. With this, the basketball star is set to earn $1,777 per post.

9. Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma Football

In a list dominated by basketball players and gymnasts, Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler is the lone football representative in our top-10. It’s this fame that’s earned him 383K Instagram followers and an estimated potential rate of $1,532 per paid promotion.

10. JD Davison, Alabama Basketball

Eighteen-year-old JD Davison might have just started his college basketball career, but he’s already accumulated over 348K Instagram followers and could be banking $1,394 per post.

ncaa rich list table

Which sports are most common in the top-100?

Looking at the top-100 athletes by earning potential, it’s interesting to see that basketball dominates. With over half of the list comprising of either men’s or women’s basketball players, the future of sports influencers is currently set to come from the court.

Perhaps surprisingly, considering the scarcity of players in the top-ten, football comes in as the second-most represented sport across the top-100, with 26 college athletes listed. Meanwhile, with an impressive generation of athletes poised to represent the nation for many years to come, gymnastics comes away with nine places.

Rounding off the top-100 college athletes by Instagram earning capability, there’s space enough for sports like softball, baseball, wrestling, track and field, volleyball, and soccer.


To create the NCAA rich list, we first determined the 100 most-followed college athlete profiles on Instagram. This was achieved using influencer marketing and analytical tool HypeAuditor.

To calculate the fee athletes could charge per Instagram post, we took the average figure taken from millions of audited influencer accounts, which allowed us to estimate that a user can earn $0.004 per post per follower.

With thousands of dollars available in sponsorship per post for the highest-rated college athletes, we’ll be watching out for which stars capitalize on their value and turn to social media influencer deals. For even more sports analysis, check out the latest betting odds and expert picks for your favorite sports.

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