Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is dropping the people’s elbow into the NIL — name, image and likeness — space.

Johnson, who played defensive end for the Miami Hurricanes in the 90s and turned into a wrestling superstar and blockbuster actor, has picked LSU phenom Angel Reese as one of seven stars in college sports for the marketing campaign of ZOA, his startup energy drink.

Headlining the group alongside the Baltimore (City? County?) native Reese is Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr., Georgia’s Brock Bowers, Austin Peay State’s Hansel Emmanuel, North Carolina’s Drake Maye, University of Miami’s Kam Kinchens and Florida A&M’s Amaya Gainer. All seven athletes, dubbed “The Rock’s Warriors,” were selected based on “their optimism, enthusiasm, and commitment to striving for something bigger,” according to a statement from ZOA.

As part of the deal, all athletes will lead marketing campaigns for the energy drink and create social media content across all platforms for the brand.

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Reese, dubbed the “Bayou Barbie,” emerged as a superstar in women’s college basketball in 2023 after leading LSU to its first basketball title in program history. She was awarded the NCAA’s Most Outstanding Player of the tournament and took home the ESPY for Breakthrough Athlete of the Year last week.

“I’m pumped to be a part of such a unique group of athletes, and who better than The Rock to bring us together for a one-of-a-kind opportunity,” Reese said in a statement. “ZOA is all about putting in the work, learning from your wins and losses, and empowering others, something I strive to do every day on and off the court, so it was a no-brainer to join the first class of The Rock’s Warriors.”

The deal inked with The Rock is only the latest in Reese’s prominent rise in the NIL world. According to an On3 NIL calculator, Reese’s annual value is approximately $1.6 million, which ranks first in women’s basketball. She’s ranked fifth overall in the NIL 100 behind Bronny James ($6.4 million), Livvy Dunne ($3.4 million), Arch Manning ($2.8 million) and Caleb Williams ($2.6 million).

In April, Reese credited that massive NIL value for why she isn’t hurrying to turn pro anytime soon.

“I’m in no rush to go to the league,” Reese told the I Am Athlete podcast. “The money I’m making is more than some of the people that are in the league that might be top players.”

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Aron Yohannes joined The Baltimore Banner in June 2023 as a reporter. He previously reported on trending topics in sports for The Oregonian. He began his career covering the Milwaukee Bucks from 2012-2016 for SB Nation before working for the Seattle Seahawks from 2016-2018. Aron is Eritrean and a native of the north side of Milwaukee. 

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