WNBA No. 1 Draft Pick Caitlin Clark's Salary Sparks Outrage Over Gender Pay Gap

Caitlin Clark, top 2023 WNBA draft pick, to earn just $76,535 base salary, sparking outrage over massive pay gap between WNBA and NBA. Experts say WNBA needs 400-500% viewership increase for salaries to match NBA levels.

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Muhammad Jawad
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WNBA No. 1 Draft Pick Caitlin Clark's Salary Sparks Outrage Over Gender Pay Gap

WNBA No. 1 Draft Pick Caitlin Clark's Salary Sparks Outrage Over Gender Pay Gap

Caitlin Clark, the top pick in the 2023 WNBA draft, will earn a base salary of just $76,535 in her rookie season with the Indiana Fever, which has sparked outrage among fans and public figures over the massive pay disparity between the WNBA and NBA. Clark, a college basketball superstar, is expected to sign a four-year, $338,000 contract with the Fever, a marked difference from the $55 million four-year contract signed by Victor Wembanyama, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NBA draft.

The average WNBA player is paid a base salary of $113,295, while the average NBA player earns $9.7 million, highlighting the significant gender pay gap in professional basketball. TV hosts Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager, as well as NFL quarterback Russell Wilson, have expressed their dismay at Clark's relatively low salary, sparking discourse among fans.

WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert has acknowledged the salary and commercial travel issues, stating that expanding the number of teams and building an economic model to fund higher pay and benefits for players are priorities. The league's current media rights deal is set to expire in 2025, and experts suggest that the WNBA needs to see a dramatic increase in viewership, around 400-500%, for salaries to get closer to the NBA's level.

Why this matters:The gender pay gap in Clark's salary is drawing outrage as a reflection of the broader cultural issue of unequal compensation for women in the workforce. The stark contrast between WNBA and NBA salaries has reignited discussions about the need for greater investment, media coverage, and fan support to help address the pay disparity and promote gender equality in sports.

While Clark is expected to earn millions through endorsements, with an estimated worth of over $3 million from name, image, and likeness deals this year, her WNBA contract is still seen as disrespectful by many fans and experts. The hope is that Clark's addition to the Fever and the league's increased national television exposure will help drive growth in viewership and revenue, potentially leading to better pay for WNBA players in the future as the league aims to double its media rights fees.

Key Takeaways

  • Caitlin Clark, 2023 WNBA #1 pick, to earn $76,535 base salary, sparking outrage.
  • WNBA avg. salary $113,295 vs. NBA avg. $9.7M, highlighting gender pay gap.
  • WNBA Commissioner acknowledges salary and travel issues, plans to expand teams and media rights.
  • Experts say WNBA needs 400-500% viewership increase for salaries to approach NBA levels.
  • Clark's low WNBA salary reflects broader cultural issue of unequal pay for women in workforce.