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Caitlin Clark's 5-figure salary stuns fans. Here's why the WNBA pays what it does

Caitlin Clark's WNBA salary highlights pay disparity
Caitlin Clark's salary highlights pay disparity between NBA and WNBA 02:06

BOSTON - Few things are inevitable, death, taxes, and Caitlin Clark going first in the WNBA draft. The college basketball phenom will now make $76,000 in the first year of her WNBA contract. The figure is less money than someone paid for one of her basketball cards at the auction house PWCC. It has fans stunned.      

"That's honestly just embarrassing," said Rachel Schladenhauffen, a college student who watched Clark throughout her Final Four run. "These women are at the top of their game. This woman beat Steph Curry's record, so she deserves more than $76,000."

"She made so much in college already, and now she's getting paid like 70K?" questioned Eshaan Jalali, another college student. "I was in shock. She is the main reason why so many people will watch the WNBA."

Caitlin Clark's marketing potential

Front Office Sports reports Clark's current sponsorship deals are around $3.1 million. Even Ice Cube offered her millions of dollars to play in the Big Three League.

"I think the WNBA was always my dream and where I wanted to go," said Clark when asked about her other playing opportunities.

"It's unbelievable that you are being offered $5 million to play in a different league by a celebrity, and you are choosing $74,000, right?" said Nicolette Aduama of Northeastern's Sports in Society Department. "I'm assuming it's based on where the sport is and what the WNBA can offer."

In 2022, the NBA made a record $10 billion dollars for the first time. By comparison, Front Office Sports reported that the WNBA made just $60 million dollars in annual media rights alone. The WNBA also plays 40 games over a 4-month season, which is more than half of the regular season games in the NBA. Those addition 42 games allow the NBA to make even more money off of ticket sales, media contracts, and concessions.

WNBA responds to Caitlin Clark salary controversy

"Caitlin Clark stands to make a half million dollars or more in WNBA earnings this coming season, in addition to what she will receive through endorsements and other partnerships, which has been reported to already exceed $3 million," a WNBA spokesperson told WBZ. 

The WNBA hopes to reach a new TV deal when their current one expires in October of next year. The league has said they want to double that figure. 

"Aren't tickets for the Indiana Fever already, like, are selling out," said Schladenhauffen.

"She's like their LeBron basically. She's insane," added Jalali.

"We know women and men go overseas to play and are paid so much more as well, but gender pay gap is still real," says Aduama.

Perhaps, bringing more eyeballs and revenue to the league will help Clark begin to close that pay gap.

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