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Cool beans: How Utah State’s Justin Bean scored an NIL deal to promote Taco Time burritos

USU forward will receive several thousand dollars a year to promote Taco Time on social media, make appearances and sign autographs

USU forward Justin Bean walks off the court all smiles after a victory in the Mountain West Conference tournament in Las Vegas.
USU forward Justin Bean (12) walks off the court all smiles after a victory in the Mountain West Conference tournament in Las Vegas in 2019. Bean recently signed an NIL deal to endorse Taco Time’s bean burritos.
Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

Two years ago, Taco Time approached the Utah State University athletic department about promoting bean burritos at a home basketball game.

Notable players Justin Bean and Diogo Brito were in the Aggies’ line up then, and the Mexican fast-food chain wanted to capitalize by giving fans a bean burrito.

“Obviously, the NCAA wouldn’t allow that and said it was crossing the line with name, image and likeness,” Bean said. “So they put the idea on the back burner.”

The day after the NCAA cleared the way for student-athletes to take advantage of name, image and likeness opportunities, Bean was contacted by Taco Time.

As far as he knows, Bean is the first USU student-athlete to sign with a sports marketing company and land an NIL deal. He announced his paid partnership with Taco Time on social media Thursday and feels very fortunate to have this opportunity as he prepares for his wedding next week.

“We’re still just in shock, honestly, at how blessed we’ve been able to be with all this,” Bean said. “As a student-athlete, you receive a stipend of about $1,000 a month and half goes to housing. So this is definitely a huge blessing for us and something we are not going to take for granted.”

Bean recently filmed a commercial that will air locally in the future and has agreed to promote Taco Time on his social media accounts, where he has close to 2,000 followers on Twitter and more than 3,600 followers on Instagram. The USU senior forward will also make some public appearances and sign autographs.

In exchange for his services, Bean will receive several thousand dollars a month over the course of a year.

The reaction from teammates and fans has been positive, Bean said.

“It’s like when your brother gets a new job or does something worthwhile, you just celebrate it,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of teammates reach out or post on social media about their excitement in my behalf, and I’m sure they know I’d do the same for them. I love those guys. ... Oh, no doubt they’ll for sure ask me when I’m bringing in Taco Time for the whole team.”

The crisp bean burrito won’t be difficult for Bean to endorse. It was a staple food for his family growing up.

“My dad is the biggest Taco Time advocate you can find,” he said. “Anytime we passed a restaurant, he would stop and get one. We would order 10 sometimes on a road trip for the family. My dad was probably more excited about it than I was.”

Bean walked on at Utah State after serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and became a fan favorite for his hustle and “attack mode” style of play. He has been a member of two Mountain West Conference championship teams at USU and thrice earned academic all-conference honors.

As a representative of the university and a member of his church, Bean feels responsible to continue living his core values, help the Aggies win, be a top student and not lose sight of what matters most. He also wants to give back.

“To ‘whom much is given much is required,’” Bean said, quoting Latter-day Saint scripture (D&C 82:3). “In any opportunity we have we should make sure we’re looking for opportunities to give back and serve other people. ... I’m excited for the opportunities and challenges ahead.”

Bean’s burrito announcement comes shortly after two BYU football players — Tyler Batty and Austin Riggs — endorsed an Idaho-based company called Balmshot LLC.