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Olympic gold medalist Gable Steveson signs deal with WWE while still in college

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  • Kurt Angle
    Kurt Angle
    American professional wrestler and 1996 Olympic gold medalist

Gable Steveson's gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics drew attention from the biggest wrestling company on the planet. The WWE signed Steveson to a multi-year deal Thursday, the organization announced.

Steveson, 21, is still in college, and plans to attend the University of Minnesota for his senior year. Once he graduates in May, Steveson will join the WWE full-time. 

Steveson, who won a gold medal in wrestling at the Tokyo Games, will attempt to defend his NCAA Division I heavyweight national championship during his final year at Minnesota. In addition to that, Steveson will work with WWE coaches at a remote training facility near campus, according to ESPN's Mike Coppinger. 

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The deal marks the first time WWE has signed a college athlete to a Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) deal. It is not the first time the organization has turned to a wrestling gold medalist. Kurt Angle famously won a gold medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and went on to have a successful career in WWE. Angle held the WWE title numerous times throughout his run, and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2017.

Steveson cited Angle when discussing the decision to sign with WWE, according to ESPN.

"I've been on WWE since I was really young," said Steveson, WWE's first gold medalist since Kurt Angle. "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."

It's unclear what WWE has in store for Steveson, or whether he'll assume a persona when he officially joins, but he did tell ESPN he already has a finishing move planned out when the time comes. 

Gable Steveson after winning a gold medal in Tokyo.
Gable Steveson signed a deal with WWE. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)