Carmel High School grad Kibler among first college athletes to benefit from NIL rights


If former Carmel High School swimming standout Drew Kibler was going to endorse a product, he wanted to make sure it was one he used.

The University of Texas senior swimmer can take advantage of new NCAA regulations, which went into effect in July, that allows student/athletes to be compensated for their NIL, or  name, image, likeness rights. Kibler is appearing, along with other University of Texas athletes, in a campaign to promote the Orange Blast flavor of Optimum Nutrition AMIN.O Energy drink.

“I’ve used Optimum Nutrition products for years, so I was excited that the brand approached me,” said Kibler, who competed for Team USA in the Olympics last summer. “The Optimum Nutrition AMIN.O Energy drink has amino acids, caffeine and electrolytes, so it’s good for hydration and energy. I drink it when I’m getting ready to go to practice or a meet, or my last class of the day — anytime I need a boost of energy to get me going. The Orange Blast flavor is brand new, so it was cool to be among the first to try it and talk about it. It’s really good.”

Kibler is glad to see NIL rules in place for college athletes.

“I think it’s a really great opportunity for athletes to start being rewarded for all the hard work they put in,” Kibler said. “I’m really excited for what’s to come with it. For me, it’s about working with brands that align with my goals and that help get me where I want to be.”

The deal with Optimum Nutrition is his first official partnership with a brand.

“I have been approached by several other businesses, but Optimum Nutrition was the first one that I felt would be a truly good fit for me and help me with my goals,” he said. “First, I want to make sure any partner is a brand I really believe in and that helps me. Second, it’s tough balancing a rigorous schedule, and my priority will always be my performance and supporting my team, so I want to be careful about my obligations.”

Kibler is pleased that brands like Optimum Nutrition are choosing to partner with athletes in sports other than just football and men’s basketball.

“My teammates and I work really hard, and so do all the other athletes in college sports,” he said. “It’s great that NIL is helping athletes in sports that might not always be in the spotlight. I know for this campaign, Optimum Nutrition is working with one of our women’s track and field stars, too. I love to see my peers getting that kind of recognition.”

Jim Hogan, senior brand director at Optimum Nutrition, said AMIN.O Energy beverage is just right for a college audience.

“Between classes, studying, working out and sports, college students need anytime energy on-the go,” Hogan said. “That’s what led us to make this our first campaign working with college athletes. As for choosing our school (Texas), the flavor launch was Orange Blast. There are a handful of places where orange really resonates. Texas is one of those places, and we were fortunate to find some great athletes like Drew who are peak performers, fans of the brand and happy to work with us.”


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