Jimmy Sotos navigates NIL alternatives, TikTok fame and clothes line
When name, image and likeness opportunities became available in the NCAA for student athletes, Jimmy Sotos jumped right into it – this time off the court.
Sotos, a graduate student in sports management and a member of the Ohio State men’s basketball team, has amassed a following of 1.1 million on TikTok and 150,000 on Instagram. Sotos said he discovered TikTok while enrolled at Bucknell University and eventually decided to create an account to post uplifting content.
“Just wholesome, real, positive energy,” Sotos said. “Me and my friends just keep going, dancing and just being ourselves on camera, and that seems to really resonate with people.”
After Sotos’ first viral video, his view count continued to increase one by one, which he said encouraged him to keep posting content.
On June 28, 2021, Ohio passed NIL legislation for colleges and institutions This allows NCAA athletes to capitalize on their name, image and likeness. When he was able to accept branded deals, Sotos said he enlisted the help of a trusted attorney: the eldest of his three brothers, Tommy.
“Jimmy and I are very, very close and it was natural for him to ask me questions about what he can and can’t do,” Tommy Sotos said. “It has grown very organically to what it is now that I advise Jimmy on everything he does.”
In October 2021, following the NIL rule change, Jimmy Sotos also released his own line of merchandise: “SOTOS.”
“I’ve been in fashion my whole life, I’ve been in design my whole life, but I just never had the resources or the money to do it,” said Jimmy Sotos. “Finally I got to that point and was able to experiment a bit and people showed a lot of love.”
Jimmy Sotos said he’s now shifting the brand to fashion-centric, formal streetwear rather than memorabilia.
Following his own merch release, Jimmy Sotos teamed with the Ohio State men’s basketball team to release a “Team 123” line as part of “The Players Edition” Goods brand in January.
“It was a historic moment,” said Jimmy Sotos. “We were able to launch team merch for the first time that benefits all players collectively, and we sold out. The support there was great.”
Although they began work on the line over the summer, Jimmy Sotos said that considering the opportunity to create team merchandise was only recently given, it will take time, patience and extensive collaboration with designers and attorneys. commemorating the 123rd Ohio State men’s basketball team.
Now that the brand is in full swing, Jimmy Sotos said future Ohio State men’s basketball teams can benefit as well.
“So next year it’s going to be ‘124’ merch and you don’t have to go through all the stuff that we had to go through and that’s why it took so long for the merch to come out,” Jimmy Sotos said. “Now all you have to do is become part of the team and we’ll take care of the rest.”
From the beginning 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 for a brand can be in a store,” said Tommy Sotos. “He understands how companies on the other side of business look at him, what they expect from him.”
Gary Petit, assistant director of the men’s basketball team, said he believes Jimmy Sotos is a good example of how athletes can benefit from the new NIL rules.
“I think if you look at Jimmy as a whole, he’s almost exactly what the NIL was created for,” Petit said. “I think he’s using the rules and the setup exactly as it was intended.”