Jimmy Sotos navigates NIL opportunities, TikTok fame and clothing line

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Jimmy Sotos, a sports management graduate student and member of the Ohio State men’s basketball team, has been making waves on the social media app TikTok, reaching 1.1 million followers. Credit: Courtesy of Jimmy Sotos.

When name, image and likeness opportunities in the NCAA became available to student-athletes, Jimmy Sotos took the lead — this time, off the field.

Sotos, a sports management graduate student and member of the Ohio State men’s basketball team, has amassed 1.1 million followers on TikTok and 150,000 on Instagram. Sotos said he discovered TikTok while enrolled at Bucknell University and eventually decided to create an account in order to post uplifting content.

“Just healthy, genuine, positive energy,” Sotos said. “My friends and I just go out there, dance and be ourselves on camera, and it really seems to resonate with people.”

After Sotos’ first viral video, his number of views continued to increase one after another, which he says encouraged him to continue posting content.

On June 28, 2021, Ohio passed NIL legislation for colleges and institutions allowing NCAA athletes to benefit from their name, image and likeness. Once able to agree to trademark deals, Sotos said he hired a trusted attorney: the eldest of his three brothers, Tommy.

“Jimmy and I have a very, very close relationship, and it was just a very natural thing for him to ask me questions about what he can and can’t do,” Tommy Sotos said. “It grew very organically into what it is now, where I just advise Jimmy on everything he does.”

In October 2021, following the NIL rule change, Jimmy Sotos also released his own line of products: “SOTOS”.

“I’ve been in fashion my whole life, I’ve been in design my whole life, I’ve never had the resources or the money to do it,” Jimmy Sotos said. “I finally got to this point, and I got to experiment a bit, and people showed a lot of love.”

Jimmy Sotos said he is now repositioning the brand on formal, fashion-centric streetwear, rather than fan merchandise.

Following his own merchandise release, Jimmy Sotos, with the Ohio State men’s basketball team, launched a “Team 123” line as part of “The Players Edition” merchandise brand in January.

“It was kind of a historic moment,” Jimmy Sotos said. “We were able to launch team products for the first time that all players collectively benefit financially, and we sold. The support there has been tremendous.

Although they began working on the line over the summer, Jimmy Sotos said creating team merchandise commemorating Ohio State’s 123rd men’s basketball team has taken some time. time, patience and intense collaboration with designers and lawyers, given the recency of the opportunity.

Now that the brand is in full swing, Jimmy Sotos said future Ohio State men’s basketball teams will also be able to benefit.

“So next year it’s going to be ‘124’ merch, and you don’t have to go through all that we had to go through, and that’s why it took so long for the merch to come out,” said said Jimmy Sotos. “So now all you have to do is make the team, and we’ll take care of the rest.”

From the start of his social media journey, those around Jimmy Sotos said they recognized his innate knowledge of how social media and business work.

“He understands where his value can come for a brand in a deal,” Tommy Sotos said. “He understands how the companies on the other side of the deals look at him, what they expect of him.”

Gary Petit, associate manager of the men’s basketball team, said he thought Jimmy Sotos was a good example of how athletes can benefit from the new NIL rules.

“I think looking at Jimmy as a whole, he’s almost exactly what NIL was created to do,” Petit said. “I think it uses the rules and configuration exactly as they were meant to be used.”

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