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Gable Steveson, fresh off an Olympic gold medal in Tokyo, signed with WWE on Thursday in a unique name, image and likeness (NIL) deal that will allow him to still compete in collegiate wrestling.
Steveson, who competes for Minnesota, confirmed the deal on Instagram.
“Childhood dream accomplished, I’m happy to announce that I have signed with the @wwe! Let’s get working!” he wrote.
The deal allows Steveson to attend Minnesota for his senior season and compete for a Division I title while training with WWE, according to ESPN. The company will reportedly set up a training facility near the Minnesota campus where he will learn how to compete in professional wrestling.
“I’ve been on WWE since I was really young,” he told ESPN. “I was on guys like Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman for a very long time. So growing up watching them, me being an entertainer on the wrestling mat, it just felt like it was the right choice.”
Steveson is set to be WWE’s first gold medalist since Kurt Angle joined the promotion after he won gold in 1996. Lesnar competed at the collegiate level.
Steveson, 21, had an iconic moment in Tokyo. He was facing off against Georgian Geno Petriashvili in the 125-kilogram freestyle category and was down three points with 23 seconds remaining in the match. He somehow managed to score five points as time expired to pick up the gold medal for the U.S.
He won 10-8. It was the 21-year-old’s first Olympic gold medal of his career. He celebrated with an outstanding backflip.
Steveson outscored his opponents 23-0 in the first three rounds of Olympic competition. He soundly defeated 2016 Olympic gold medalist Taha Akgul of Turkey, 8-0, in the quarterfinals and beat Mongolia’s Mönkhtöriin Lkhagvagerel in the semis before getting to Petriashvili – the No. 1 seed.
Petriashvili failed to capitalize on the three-point lead late in match and was ousted by Steveson’s superb quickness on the mat.
Steveson’s medal adds to his decorated amateur career.
He won the gold at the 2021 Pan American Championships and at the 2017 Junior World Championships. He also took home gold in the NCAA Division I Championships in 2021 for Minnesota and won gold in the Big Ten Championships in 2021 and 2020 as well.
He hasn’t lost a match on the global level since August 2019.
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