Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, a potential No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft, has entered into a marketing deal with United Airlines, which will provide special direct flights from Eugene, Oregon, to select Ducks away games this season.
“Partnering with United Airlines was a no-brainer for me, as they are a premium brand with the same core values as I have,” Thibodeaux said in a statement provided to ESPN through a representative. “I look forward to a long-standing relationship with United.”
The program will begin with multiple direct flights from Eugene to Columbus, Ohio, starting on Sept. 9, for Oregon’s game at Ohio State on Sept. 11. Return flights from Columbus to Eugene will be available after the game and on the following two days.
Thibodeaux has quickly become one of the most visible beneficiaries to the changes in name, image and likeness rules in college football. Since NCAA rules changed at the start of July to allow athletes to profit off marketing deals, Thibodeaux has committed to deals with roughly $400,000, a source told ESPN.
Last month, he announced a non-fungible token (NFT) deal with Nike founder Phil Knight and designer Tinker Hatfield involving a piece of artwork.
“Phil Knight just reached out to me. They already had the plan, and they just chose me to be the exemplar guy,” Thibodeaux told ESPN. “They created the art, and I’m blessed with that opportunity. I feel like they want to work with me in the future, which is why they gave me the opportunity.”
A canvas version of the that artwork will be put up for auction, in a partnership with eBay, beginning on Sept. 1.
Additionally, he will work with PlantFuel and Starface, which are plant-based protein and skincare companies, and signed a six-figure private memorabilia deal, the source said.
Thibodeaux was named the Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year in 2019 and was a first-team All-Pac-12 selection last year. He arrived at Oregon as one of the No. 1-ranked player in the Class of 2019. He is the No. 1-ranked prospect for the 2022 NFL draft, according to ESPN NFL draft analysts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay.