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Ball State dean: Caitlin Clark bigger than Messi?

Caitlin Clark Media Impact

Ball State University media professor weighs in on the Caitlin Clark effect

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — To borrow the phrase from a famous ad campaign, experts suggest the impact of Caitlin Clark may be “priceless.”

In fact, one goes so far as to say Clark’s impact could eclipse that of the world’s most famous athlete, Lionel Messi.

Paaige Turner, the dean of Ball State University’s College of Communication, Information, and Media, says the “Caitlin Clark Effect” is quite frankly “amazing.”

“Caitlin Clark is a media star, and we are so fortunate that central Indiana will benefit from her popularity and her accessibility to fans and sponsors,” Turner said.

Given Clark’s near-certain selection by the Indiana Fever with the WNBA’s top pick, our Daybreak team talked to Turner about Clark’s potential in the professional ranks, now that her record-shattering college career is done. Turner points to calculations studied by Ball State and media and marketing agency Game Day.

“She had during the tournament 177 billion media impressions. And believe me, that’s not just her putting out on her social media, that’s everybody else picking it up and talking about her,” she said.

When asked to compare Clark’s overall impact to another athlete or celebrity, Turner goes straight for the top: Soccer superstar Lionel Messi. The World Cup winner’s switch from top-level European soccer to America’s MLS has provided a massive jolt to the sport stateside.

“He went to Miami in 2023, and we saw a huge increase in jersey sales and ticket sales in soccer,” Turner said. “So, I would say this is sort of a ‘Messi effect’ that we’re going to see, but I think it’s going to be bigger.”

For more Ball State perspective on Clark, watch the interview above, and join WISH-TV’s Daybreak Tuesday morning, when an economics expert joins us for the dollars and cents of the story.

For Clark’s economic part, Turner expects it to be big. “A lot of people are making a mint on her name and I fully expect that she will make a mint on her name as well.”