When name/image/likeness eligibility was introduced into the college sports environment in 2021, not even Olivia Dunne was likely aware that her life would change so drastically that she'd eventually be unable to attend college classes at LSU due to safety reasons.
Dunne, 20, is a gymnast for LSU and the highest-earning NCAA female athlete, raking in seven figures. In a profile of her by Elle Magazine, she said she no longer attends in-person classes at the university.
"There were some scares in the past, and I just want to be as careful as possible," Dunne told Elle in a profile released Tuesday. "I don't want people to know my daily schedule and where I am."
Gymnast Olivia Dunne says she can?t attend LSU classes over ?safety? concerns due to being an internet celebrity pic.twitter.com/O9Z9IJRiHx
— Dexerto (@Dexerto) July 26, 2023
Olivia Dunne's Massive Social Media Following
Considering her social media presence, that's not a complete surprise. Dunne has amassed over 11.9 million followers on TikTok and Instagram combined — more than the population of Paris, France. Thus, it's no surprise when she says that fellow students ask to take pictures with her when she walks around campus.
Despite her presence and openness on social media, Dunne told Elle she plans to keep her love life quiet.
From the Elle profile, "She doesn't currently have a boyfriend, but says that if and when she does, she'll keep that part of her life private."
This isn't the first mention of safety concerns for Dunne, though. She told the "Today Show" in January that she receives threatening comments and even had to get police involved because of a "concerning" social media incident.
In a TODAY exclusive, Louisiana State University gymnast Olivia Dunne @livvydunne opens up to @stephgosk about her rise to social-media fame that is making her more money than any other female college athlete. pic.twitter.com/H7M2ar0FI9
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) January 20, 2023
On Jan. 6, Dunne competed in an event for LSU against Utah in Salt Lake City. There, a horde of teenage boys asked for photos and follows on social media. Because of this kind of presence that Dunne's fame created, LSU had to implement new security measures, which have helped thwart other issues.
"It was our first meet of the season," Dunne told Elle. "I knew that my success had grown from the years prior, but I did not expect there to be that many people out there to see me and my team.
"I didn't really realize until after the meet when I saw the videos of it. I was like, 'Holy moly.'"
Remember that Dunne, who's a New Jersey native, is still in college, and she told Elle that it can be challenging to handle the additional attention.
"It's not a girl's responsibility how a man looks at her or how he acts, especially when you're doing your sport and that's your uniform," she said. "I can't help the way I look, and I'm going to post what I feel comfortable with. It's hard to handle at times, definitely, because I am just a 20-year-old student. I think people do forget that."
Following the NIL rule change in 2021, Dunne signed on with the WME Sports agency. She landed her first NIL deal in September 2022 with Vuori, an activewear brand, worth six figures. Today, according to the New York Post, Dunne has deals with Accelerator, L'Oréal, Spotify, Forever 21, Motorola, American Eagle, Grubhub, ESPN College GameDay and YouTube.
In 2023, Dunne made her Sports Illustrated Swimsuit debut in April and attended the ESPY Awards in Los Angeles on July 12.
Elle asked Dunne, a senior now, what comes next after school.
"I know it's coming to an end, so I'm trying to take in every single last memory I can, but I'm also excited to see what the future holds," Dunne said.
She also mentioned moving to Malibu, New York City or Florida after school.
"Probably I'll end up near a beach, I'm guessing," she said. "Then I can just honestly go back to what I started doing. I could flip around on the beach. I could.
"That's how it all happened. All of this ... All these followers and this life."
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