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Anthony Hamilton Jr.: Clemson athlete turned into internet sensation

Photo courtesy of Anthony Hamilton Jr.
Anthony Hamilton Jr. track and field

The cameras are rolling, the lights are on and Michael B. Jordan is about to throw you an alley-oop pass in front of thousands. For most, this scene sounds like a dream, but for this former Clemson track and field star, it was reality.

Anthony Hamilton Jr. caught Jordan’s pass off the backboard and slammed it in the hoop with authority, creating a clip that has been shared and played across all popular social media platforms. Still, the 13-second video with Jordan is just one of many that have propelled Hamilton to become a prominent social media creator. 

From viral posts of him dunking with Clemson basketball guard Al-Amir Dawes to YouTube vlogs, Hamilton has built his own brand from the ground up and made over $400,000 through NIL deals, according to Forbes’ Kristi Dosh.

While he has had great success at it, becoming a social media icon was not always the vision.

Hamilton grew up in Hawthorne, California, a city in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, and played high school basketball at Leuzinger. Before his sophomore season, he suffered two significant knee injuries that required surgery.

“At that point in time, that was kind of like a turning point for me,” he said in an interview with The Tiger. “I realized that sports may not be there all the time… I kind of opened up to learning more about business, marketing and advertisement. I learned how to edit, do graphic design, I learned how to do all this type of stuff.”

Hamilton carried that ingenuity into his freshman year at the University of La Verne and then into his three years at Clemson. His following grew through his time at college, and he now sits at 366,600 followers on TikTok, 145,000 followers on Instagram and 158,000 subscribers on YouTube.

Clemson did not just build Hamilton’s brand, however. It also provided an opportunity for him to compete.

As a high jumper and long jumper, he achieved second-team All-ACC honors in 2019 and won three competitions during the 2019-2020 indoor campaign. 

Hamilton was also a leader of the movement to keep Clemson’s men’s track and field and cross-country teams sponsored by the university.

With the help of Hamilton and others, Clemson announced in March that the men’s teams would continue to be sponsored.

“I did what I could with promoting it; I did what I could with getting some signatures and being there for my teammates,” said Hamilton. “When we got it back, I was just perfect because we didn’t think it was even going to be a team [coming] back after that year, but it was good to see.”

Although the university continued to sponsor the teams, Hamilton opted out of the 2021 outdoor season in February for personal reasons. After briefly playing basketball at Chicago State University, he shifted all of his focus towards social media, signing with a marketing agency called Viral Nation.

From an outsider’s perspective, Viral Nation and Hamilton seem to be a successful pairing. According to Dosh, Hamilton has signed deals with 11 different companies, ranging from Reign Total Body Fuel to the dating app BLK.

One of Hamilton’s unique partnerships is with Sports Illustrated. After originally opting out, Hamilton was contacted by Sports Illustrated’s Executive Director of Social Kevin Driscoll. Driscoll proposed that he should be a social creative and media talent for the company. After some enthusiastic deliberation, Hamilton accepted the offer.

“At the end of the day, I’m getting paid to get posted on accounts with millions of followers,” Hamilton said of his relationship with Sports Illustrated. “That’s a great feeling to have and the namesake of it is big also. So, it kind of helped also boost my name when leaving Clemson.”

The Sports Illustrated deal has certainly boosted Hamilton’s brand since he graduated Clemson in August. From Nov. 18 to Dec.1, 2021, Hamilton’s Instagram reached 8.8 million accounts and received engagement from 1.4 million accounts.

Reaching eight million accounts consistently is impressive, but Hamilton is still looking ahead to the next goal.

Ultimately, he wants to become the No. 1 social media creator in the business world, and he has the following to reach that pedestal. 

Interview responses are edited for length and clarity. 

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