Olivia Dunne finds new purpose through The Livvy Fund - [225] (2024)

Seconds after Olivia Dunne steps into the lobby, a young girl whispers to her preoccupied big brother.

“Livvy Dunne is here,” she gasps, beaming.

It’s an ordinary Monday morning at Sherman & Balhoff Orthodontics. Phones ring. Patients scroll on their phones, biding their time ahead of their appointments.

But a surprise appearance of the famed LSU gymnast has just flipped this routine day upside down.

Patients’ heads turn. The staff gathers at the front. A quiet clamor quickly bubbles into a thrilled frenzy.

Livvy Dunne is here, indeed.

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That little girl’s reaction is one morsel of the buzz that follows Dunne everywhere she goes. Whether she’s performing a gymnastics routine or posting an Instagram photo, all eyes are on her, all the time.

In Baton Rouge, she’s a household name, instantly recognizable for her near-perfect LSU Gymnastics scores. Nationally, she’s as much a style icon as a sports figure, as likely to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated as she is to model for its Swimsuit Issue. Campaigns for brands like Forever 21, Vuori and Nautica have lifted her to the top ranks of NIL earners.

But Dunne is here today for another reason: sharing her connections with female athletes.

LSU student athletes Aalyah Del Rosario, Kylie Coen and Sydney Clemens are in the orthodontists’ chairs as Dr. Stephen Sherman Jr. and his staff make the rounds, examining smiles. They are getting braces or clear aligners through the practice courtesy of Dunne’s new project, The Livvy Fund.

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“I wanted to give back to the other student athletes and the university that’s given me so much.”

[Olivia Dunne]

The organization was launched last summer to provide LSU female student athletes with NIL advice and opportunities. It works in partnership with Bayou Traditions, the LSU Athletics collective that raises funds to make NIL deals more accessible to student athletes.

Brands can coordinate partnerships or make donations to athletes through the Livvy Fund. Sherman & Balhoff Orthodontics, for example, has donated about $50,000 worth of services to student athletes through the fund.

“I wanted to give back to the other student athletes and the university that’s given me so much,” Dunne says. “Definitely to spread the love and give it to other female student athletes. I haven’t seen an NIL deal like this one, where you’re literally helping change someone’s smile.”

The Livvy Fund has also collaborated with Accelerator Active Energy, Purina and Nautica. Through her own partnerships with the brands, Dunne builds Livvy Fund contributions into her contracts. Bayou Traditions selects LSU female athletes for NIL opportunities with the brands.

Tiger fans can make individual monetary donations, too.

While Dunne is today the nation’s No. 3 NIL earner, the rest of the top 10 are men, according to On3’s NIL 100 rankings.

The hope is to make NIL an equal playing field—with opportunities for both men and women.

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Dunne’s 15 million-plus combined social media followers are used to seeing her bright smile. But she confesses she had “crooked teeth” growing up. She divulges this as she chats with the athletes, telling them she had braces as teen.

“With NIL, it’s so huge that you’re confident in the way you look and the way you feel, because you definitely have more eyes on you,” she says. “I mean, it is Name, Image and Likeness.”

Even today, cameras zoom in on her, courtesy The Money Game crew. The Prime Video docuseries about the role of NIL in LSU Athletics has been following Dunne for months, recording her life and career. When it releases this fall, today’s footage may be included.

And the crew’s lenses aren’t the only ones tracking her moves. Her older sister, Julz Dunne, captures candids on an iPhone, and Dunne strikes poses for 225 too.

Regardless of being surrounded by cameras, the only role Dunne is interested in playing is herself. She’s dressed in soft gray Vuori athleisure, her blond hair pulled back with a claw clip, a small Gucci handbag dangling off her shoulder.

It’s this unfiltered mixture of self-assurance and humility that makes her so likable.

And when I chat one-on-one with her, I can tell Dunne’s just your average 21-year-old when she’s not in an ad or tumbling on a mat.

We talk manicures, graduation, and of course, NIL. I discover Dunne handles brand deals with her parents, sister and agents.

“It definitely was a process to learn balance and what different opportunities to say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to,” she tells me. “I say ‘no’ to most things, which is kind of crazy. But you have to be picky.”

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The day we chat, Dunne is still weighing another big decision: whether or not she’ll take a fifth year to keep competing for LSU. She is taking things one day—and one meet—at a time.

“If I don’t end up doing a fifth year, I’m probably going to just keep doing what I’m doing: working with brands, keep growing my personal brand and maybe do some sports broadcasting,” she muses.

As her LSU career winds down, Dunne has had to stand by difficult decisions about where to put her energy. She stepped away from on-campus classes this year for her safety.

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“BR, I would say, is my home away from home.“

[Olivia Dunne]

But she beams when reflecting on senior year, which she describes as her best yet. Today, she’s gearing up for an SEC Championship meet over the weekend in New Orleans—which the team will go on to win.

Add that to her list of accomplishments.

Either way, Dunne isn’t ready to let go of Baton Rouge just yet.

“BR, I would say, is my home away from home,” she says. “I’m from New Jersey, but the LSU and Baton Rouge community has taken me in to be one of their own. I do see myself either staying here or having a place here in the future. I’m definitely a Tiger for life.”

To her, being a Tiger for “life” means keeping eyes on the university’s future athletes—she plans to keep The Livvy Fund going after graduation. Talk about a legacy.

But today, as she wraps up filming, she’s going back to being a normal college student. Time for her to grab some breakfast.

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Livvy’s food faves

Which Baton Rouge restaurants does the LSU Gymnastics star frequent? Here’s what she shared with 225.

Drunken Fish Vietnamese Cuisine

Olivia Dunne finds new purpose through The Livvy Fund - [225] (10)When we asked Dunne about food, Drunken Fish came to her mind almost immediately. She likes the Highland Road sushi spot for an “easy and delicious” pre-meet meal or a quick bite with family and teammates.

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Dunne says she’s been obsessed with the Perkins Road Overpass District restaurant. She’s even been spotted dining at BLDG 5 with those close to her, like her mom and baseball-player beau Paul Skenes. She posted a photo of one of the eatery’s popular grazing boards on her Snapchat story.

Fiery Crab Seafood Restaurant and Bar

Since moving to Louisiana for college, Dunne says she’s taken a liking to seafood and Cajun flavors. She credits food from spots like Fiery Crab, which is known for its seafood boils and decadent platters, for helping lure her to LSU.

This article was originally published in the May 2024 issue of 225 Magazine.

Olivia Dunne finds new purpose through The Livvy Fund - [225] (2024)
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