Jack Betts – 20 Under 40

The Make Your Own Legacy Academy

23 | Amherst College

Jack Betts advises, “If there isn’t a path, make one.”

The Amherst College football alumnus founded The Make Your Own Legacy Academy in 2022, a first-of-its-kind name, image, and likeness education program to help smaller-market athletes utilize their NIL potential.

He was inspired after discovering that few Division III athletes were making a name for themselves in the NIL space. He took the initiative to become the person he wanted to see when he Googled “Division III NIL success stories.”

“Being that I was one of the first D3 athletes to make a name for themselves in this space by inking partnerships with brands like Whoop, Body Armor, Allbirds, Invesco QQQ, and Insomnia Cookies, I realized that I was operating within a unique niche of individuals,” Betts said. “I earned the moniker of ‘The King of D3 NIL’ as I began developing skills in marketing, social media, content creation, and more.”

As his brand grew, similar small-market athletes asked him how he could reach these heights without help from his school or professional representation.

Since then, he’s been a consultant to more than 60 athletes nationwide, assisting them in developing professional relationships and skills that will benefit them once their time as student-athletes concludes.

Volunteer-wise, Betts co-founded “Kicks Land” while a student at the Episcopal School of Dallas. This initiative is a section of S.M. Wright’s Christmas in the Park Celebration, where he organized fundraisers to purchase and distribute approximately 2,000 pairs of Nike shoes annually.

He also has volunteered with the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Dallas as a tutor and mentor to primarily Spanish-speaking students.

“I tutored these students in English, reading, and mathematics, and (that) is where my passion for education stems from,” he said.

Betts will start working toward his master’s degree in sports management at SMU this fall.

What is your favorite local restaurant or shop? 

My favorite local restaurant is undoubtedly Bubba’s. Every time I would come home from Amherst, my first meal always had to be Bubba’s. Their fried chicken, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and famous rolls are a staple of my diet.

What’s a fun fact that someone wouldn’t know about you?

I am actually adopted. I was originally born in Seattle and moved to Dallas right after I was born. I am of Cherokee descent, and my Indigenous heritage is something that I hold in extremely high regard.

What would you tell an 18-year-old you?

I’d tell myself that the journey is not going to be linear. You’re going to experience adversity with injuries in your football career and roadblocks to your education, such as COVID, but the best thing about it all is that the sun rises tomorrow.

What (or who) motivated you to get involved in the community?

What motivated me the most to get involved with my community was my parents. In my upbringing, community service and giving back were two core tenets that my parents successfully instilled in me. Some of my earliest memories of these events trace back to S.M. Wright’s Christmas in the Park where my family helped out with “Bike Land,” another highlight of the operation that provides underprivileged children with bicycles. Seeing how passionate my parents were about these kinds of practices made me realize that I should strive to be just like them and continue to give back to those who need it most.

What was your first job and what did you learn from it?

My first job was actually time as a summer analyst for a private equity group called Patriot Capital. I absorbed many important pieces of information from my stint with them including the in’s and out’s of what it takes to become a successful business and the difficulty of fundraising. My days would consist of reviewing business plans for prospective investments, evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of each company, as well as preparing important matrices for the investment board to review. What was so unique about this experience was the fact that I had no prior experience in this field of work. Given I was an English major with a subfocus in Native American Studies, I didn’t spend a lot of time with numbers and those matters. But I believe my success in my summer analyst position was a testament to my ability to pick up new concepts quickly, as well as my versatile skill set.

Where do you see yourself and/or your career 10 years from now?

Ideally, I hope that The Make Your Own Legacy Academy becomes scaled to the point of serious notoriety. I would love for the empire to expand to where it has become a marketing and representation powerhouse to help collegiate and professional athletes continue to build their brands. I feel that in the current climate of collegiate and professional athletics it is important as ever to have entities that are for athletes and by athletes so as to protect them from any malicious intent from brands or other businesses. I’ve seen too many horror stories of athletes blowing all of their money or athletes signing contracts that they don’t even bother reading–practically signing away their autonomy.

I also have intentions of finding ways in which I can help improve quality of life on Native American reservations. The living standards at these locations are deplorable, and my communities have been ignored for far too long. I want to try and improve the quality of education on reservations because I believe that education leads to opportunity. I also believe that athletics serve an instrumental purpose in the development of young individuals, so by improving access to competitive leagues it gives these young people a chance to play the sport they love and possibly help them get into college. I have many aspirations to help my Indigenous community that I know one day I will make reality.

What’s on your bucket list?

Being the die-hard Dallas sports fan that I am, the top things on my bucket list are see the Mavericks win another NBA Championship and witness the Cowboys bring home a Super Bowl trophy. I was 10 years old the last time I saw the Mavericks win so I don’t really count that but the Cowboys are another story.

I also want to go on a country wide tour of Italy. In the Spring of 2022 instead of studying abroad in Rome with my teammates I decided to take a gap semester which allowed me to return for my final season of football this past fall. This gap semester allowed me the time to build my empire of NIL and MYOL, but it did mean I was missing out on Italy. I want to make up for that missed spring of studying abroad sometime down the line.

Who’s your biggest inspiration and why?

I believe my mother is my biggest inspiration. Every characteristic that I possess can be credited to her. Since the day I became a member of this family she had set forth a path for me that I am not sure what I’d do without. Becoming one of the baddest women in Law in Dallas is one of the things I admire about her most–she never backed down when insecure men tried to intimidate her and kept going. Her ability to demand attention when she enters a room is something I could only aspire to do one day. She’s truly inspired not only my entrepreneurial endeavors, but also my humanitarian efforts. She is who I draw so much from, and I am eternally grateful to call such an incredible woman my mother.

What was your “lightbulb moment” that led you to your career?

My lightbulb moment for my career had to have been in April of 2022. I was nearly four months into my career in NIL when I began receiving direct messages from athletes coming from similar sized institutions as mine asking how in the world did I navigate this entirely new environment of NIL successfully. I realized that the gap in education and resources between smaller-market schools and the Alabama’s of the world was putting thousands of athletes at a disadvantage. I recognized that there is a potential for a serious upheaval–and I wanted to be on the front lines of it. I wanted to be the resource of education on these topics for these athletes and help them in ways that their schools could not. And so, the idea of The Make Your Own Legacy Academy was born, and still grows today.

How do you motivate yourself and others?

One of the main things that really gets me out of bed every morning is acknowledging the blessings that I have surrounding me, and putting it upon myself to be the change that I want to see in the world. Division 3 athletes were the last demographic on the minds of businesses when the Name, Image, and Likeness legislation was passed, and so I made it my goal to leave collegiate athletics a better place than I found it. I wanted to put D3 athletics on the map, not only to showcase that we are legitimate athletes, but also to showcase that we are uniquely balanced individuals with incredible depth to us. We are more than just the person who wears a helmet, or dribbles a basketball — we are humans and much more than just athletes.

What advice do you have for other young professionals?

My top piece of advice is: if there isn’t a path, make one. What catapulted my career was a lack of representation. I noticed that there were no Division 3 athletes in the space of NIL making a name for themselves so I took it upon myself to be the person that I wish popped up when I googled “Division 3 NIL success stories.” You never know what can come of something that you are passionate about. And if that something ends up being your career, then you will never have to work a day in your life.

If someone made a movie about your life, what would it be called and who would play you?

Calling back to my nickname as “The King of D3 NIL” I think I’d go with: Heavy is the Head Who Wears the Crown and I’d have Blackfoot actor Boo Boo Stewart take over the role of Jack Betts. Short haired Boo Boo, though!

Is there anything else you think we should know about you?

I would like to dedicate my acceptance of this award to my younger brother, Logan, who passed away in April of last year. Before you passed, everything I did was to make you proud to call me your older brother. And since you’ve left us, I’ve made it my goal to ensure that sentiment will never change. This one’s for you brother.

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