Ky’Wuan Dukes Makes History As First HBCU Athlete to Sign an Endorsement Deal

Image: Twitter/kyupnext3

A freshman wide receiver at Johnson C. Smith University signed a deal with national chicken chain Bojangles.

Ky’Wuan Dukes is making a career move that will align himself with national chicken chain Bojangles.

A North Carolina native and freshman wide receiver at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, Dukes is the first student-athlete from a historically Black college or university to sign an endorsement deal. The football standout confirmed the news via Twitter earlier this month, alongside photos of himself enjoying the restaurant’s all new Bo’s Chicken Sandwich.

Meanwhile, the company, which is also based in Charlotte, said it is “thrilled” to add Dukes to its team as a wave of student athletes ink their first Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) deals. “Bojangles was born in Charlotte, and we’ve had a longstanding relationship with Charlotte’s only HBCU—Johnson C. Smith University,” Jackie Woodward, chief brand and marketing officer for Bojangles, told McClatchy News in a statement.

“We’re thrilled to have Ky’Wuan join Team Bojangles as the first HBCU athlete on our roster, and we look forward to continuing our partnerships with HBCUs and athletes throughout our footprint.”

Specifics about the deal haven’t been disclosed, but this is great news for those looking to follow in Dukes’ footsteps.

The NCAA in July amended its rules to allow “all NCAA D1, D2, and D3 student-athletes to be compensated” for their name, image and likeness. This effectively ended the longstanding rule of student-athletes not capitalizing on their on-the-court/field prowess, and enabling those who may not end up in the pros with an opportunity to secure financial freedom in an alternative way.

Dukes, an alum of Statesville High School, isn’t the first collegiate athlete to join Bojangles, as quarterbacks DJ Uiagalelei (Clemson University) and Sam Howell (UNC-Chapel Hill) have also signed deals with the brand, according to a recent news release.

Dukes commented on the deal, highlighting its importance because it puts a spotlight on HBCU athletes who don’t get the same level of attention as players at predominately white institutions (PWIs). “It means a lot to be honest,” he told the Statesville Record & Landmark.

“It really makes me want to go harder as an athlete and as a person. Me being one of the first ones, especially at an HBCU, is big I feel like because it brings some type of exposure on us HBCU athletes, and I feel like that’s something that we all deserve and need, especially in order to get to the next level.”

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