Nebraska volleyball star Lexi Rodriguez inks historic NIL deal with Panini America

When Lexi Rodriguez embarked on her journey of seeking NIL deals as a freshman, her aspirations were modest – a couple of free sweatshirts and coupons would do. Little did she know that her path would lead her to become a prominent figure in collegiate volleyball and a trailblazer in the ever-evolving world of Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL).

Now in her third year at Nebraska, Rodriguez has not only excelled on the court as one of the nation’s top liberos but has also made history by signing an endorsement deal with Panini America, marking her as the first female college athlete to join forces with the renowned trading card company.

A Remarkable Transformation

From her humble beginnings, Rodriguez has undergone a remarkable transformation.

As a two-time Big Ten first-team selection, she has become a leading name not just in volleyball but also in the realm of NIL.

Reflecting on her journey, Rodriguez expressed her disbelief at the idea of signing a trading card deal as a freshman. Back then, her goals were simple – a free sweatshirt and some coupons.

Now, her image and name hold significance for people beyond the volleyball community, a development she finds incredibly cool and an opportunity for personal growth that Panini America has generously provided.

Beyond the Cards

The Panini America endorsement deal goes beyond the realm of NIL for Rodriguez.

Throughout the current season, fans have approached her, inquiring about the existence of her trading card. Now able to affirm its existence, Rodriguez considers this a significant personal achievement.

More than personal success, she sees this as an opportunity to pave the way for future female athletes to collaborate with Panini America.

In doing so, Rodriguez aims to inspire the next generation of little girls who form the majority of her following and fan base.

Inspiring the Next Generation

Rodriguez is passionate about being a source of inspiration for young girls.

As the first female athlete to partner with Panini America, she sees this as a unique opportunity to convey a powerful message.

Expressing her excitement about receiving opportunities, especially as the first female athlete to do so, Rodriguez wants to ensure that she sends a strong message to little girls who look up to her.

Witnessing the Growth of the Sport

While Rodriguez has been making strides in her personal journey, she has also observed the remarkable growth of volleyball as a sport.

Currently, the Nebraska Huskers hold the top spot in the nation, coming off a weekend sweep.

Rodriguez has actively participated in events like Volleyball Day in Nebraska, contributing to breaking the world attendance record for a women’s sporting event with an impressive 92,003 in attendance.

Notably, the recent clash between Nebraska and Wisconsin garnered a total average viewership of 612,000 on the Big Ten Network, marking the largest-ever audience for a regular-season match on any network.

Why the Deal Makes Sense for Panini America

Lexi Rodriguez’s success on the volleyball court has translated into a notable following, with over 105,000 social media followers.

Brands like adidas, Runza, and Scooter’s Coffee have recognized her marketability, contributing to her growing popularity.

With Nebraska eyeing a national championship, Rodriguez’s marketability is set to rise further.

Panini America acknowledges her as an outstanding athlete and a trailblazer, representing their first partnership with a female collegiate NIL athlete.

They eagerly anticipate featuring her in NIL products and engaging in collaborative marketing initiatives.

In conclusion, Lexi Rodriguez’s journey from seeking free sweatshirts to signing a historic trading card deal with Panini America is a testament to the evolving landscape of NIL in collegiate sports.

Beyond personal success, Rodriguez is focused on inspiring future generations and contributing to the growth of women’s sports.

As her influence continues to expand, Rodriguez remains a symbol of success both on and off the volleyball court.


How did Lexi Rodriguez’s goals evolve from her freshman year to now?

Initially seeking free sweatshirts and coupons, Rodriguez’s goals transformed as she became a leading name in volleyball and signed a historic trading card deal with Panini America.

Why does Rodriguez consider the Panini America deal beyond NIL?

Rodriguez sees the deal as an opportunity to pave the way for future female athletes and inspire the next generation, especially little girls who make up the majority of her following.

How has volleyball’s popularity grown during Rodriguez’s career at Nebraska?

Rodriguez has witnessed significant growth, including breaking attendance records and achieving record viewership for regular-season matches on national networks.

What makes Lexi Rodriguez’s collaboration with Panini America significant from Panini’s perspective?

Panini America recognizes Rodriguez as an outstanding athlete and a trailblazer, representing their first partnership with a female collegiate NIL athlete.

They look forward to featuring her in NIL products and marketing initiatives.

How has Rodriguez’s marketability grown, and why is it set to rise further?

With over 105,000 social media followers and recognition from brands, Rodriguez’s marketability has grown. As Nebraska aims for a national championship, her influence is expected to increase, making her a sought-after figure for brands.

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