When Suni Lee announced she would fulfill her verbal commitment for gymnastics at Auburn after winning gold last summer at the Tokyo Olympics, it brought welcome escalated attention to a sport that needed no rejuvenation.
College gymnastics has always been viewed as one of the premier sports in NCAA athletics, but the pedestal the sport is on has been raised. From ESPN broadcasting more regularly meets to the level of competition being spread out nationally.
There is also something that wasn’t as influential 10 years ago — social media. More specifically — Instagram and TikTok turning into profitable markets. Add in the Name, Image and Likeness laws and being a social media influencer as a college athlete is a surefire business model to get into.
Here are the 10 college gymnasts that have the biggest social media followings.
Note that these numbers are as of Monday, Feb. 14 and may have since changed.
Olivia Dunne, LSU
1.5M Instagram followers and 4.8M TikTok followers
Known as “Livvy” to her millions of followers, the LSU sophomore draws quite the crowd wherever the Tigers compete. She competes on bars and on the floor, doing much more than just TikTok dances. Through plenty of NIL deals, Dunne is expected to have made more than $1 million since last summer.
More:Injury to key senior GymDog dampens season-high scores against No. 6 LSU
Suni Lee, Auburn
1.6M Instagram followers and 1.6M TikTok followers
The reigning Olympic champion in the All-Around gained a lot of her following from winning gold in Tokyo last summer and got a boost from making it to the semifinal round of Dancing with the Stars in the fall. The Minnesota-native has raised the popularity of college gymnastics to where every Auburn meet — home or away — either sells out or gets close.
Jordan Chiles, UCLA
433K Instagram followers and 237.9K TikTok followers
Another freshman who was on the 2021 US Olympics team, Chiles has scored two perfect 10s in her first season as a college gymnast. The first 10 came on floor and last week against Stanford, she was perfect on uneven bars.
Jade Carey, Oregon State
323K Instagram followers and 13.9K TikTok followers
Carey won gold in the floor exercise in Tokyo and has continued to dazzle in that event, and everywhere really, for the Beavers. She scored a perfect 10 on floor on Feb. 5, a 10 on floor last week and has been the top gymnast in the country thus far, averaging a meet score of 39.760.
More:North Oconee gymnast graduating early to compete in the 2022 NCAA Gymnastics season
Grace McCallum, Utah
248K Instagram followers and 141.2K TikTok followers
The 2021 US Olympic team’s impact on this year’s college gymnastics landscape is huge, and McCallum is no different. The freshman scored a 10 on uneven bars against UCLA, the same weekend her fellow Olympic teammates turned in perfect scores across the country.
Margzetta Frazier, UCLA
126K Instagram followers and 273.8K TikTok followers
Frazier is a three-time All-American on uneven bars and won the Pac-12 in the event last season. Her floor routine to Janet Jackson songs went viral in 2021 and even led to Jackson facetiming the gymnast. She has NIL deals with Champs and LinkTree.
Ragan Smith, Oklahoma
244K Instagram followers
The junior Sooner has been electric since she arrived in Norman in 2020 and has been perfect on the balance beam in back-to-back meets. She was named an alternate on the 2016 US Olympic team. Smith has known NIL deals with Allbirds shoes and Cameo.
Morgan Hurd, Florida
147K Instagram followers and 52K TikTok followers
The 2017 world champion tore her ACL before arriving in Gainesville, so she’s unable to compete for the Gators this season, but she’s been a great supporter for her teammates. In 2018, Hurd won bronze in the All-Around competition at the world championships.
Alyssa Baumann, Florida
66.3K Instagram followers
The sister of Georgia’s Rachel Baumann, Alyssa is an 8-time All-American and was the SEC balance beam champion in 2018, 2019 and 2021. Baumann, a graduate senior for the Gators this season, has an NIL deal with WhiteFlag, an app to help promote mental health awareness.
More:From Bulldog Nation to Braves Country, UGA gymnast gets NIL deal with MLB team
Trinity Thomas, Florida
59.5K Instagram followers and 2K TikTok followers
The 2020 SEC gymnast of the year, Thomas has scored a perfect 10 three times this season and is expected to compete for individual All-Around champion in her final year with the Gators. Thomas was one of the first college athletes to sign an NIL deal last summer, getting a deal with Milner Technologies, and has since signed deals with Honey Stinger and Nocap Sports.
On the hardwood:Lady Bulldogs have ‘decision to make’ following one-sided loss to No. 1 South Carolina
McClain Baxley is a recruiting reporter for the Athens Banner-Herald and the USA TODAY Network. Reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @mcclainbaxley.