Hoda Kotb angry at Caitlin Clark’s ‘ridiculous’ first-year WNBA salary: ‘Unimaginable and disturbing’

Hoda Kotb was all fired up after learning that WNBA rookie Caitlin Clark will make just a fraction of what her male cohorts earn for her first year as a professional basketball player.

“For somebody who is now the face of women’s basketball, it seemed kind of ridiculous,” Kotb said on the “Today” show Tuesday.

Kotb noted that Clark, who was the No. 1 overall draft pick Monday, signed a four-year contract with the Indiana Fever for $338,000, whereas the top pick in the 2023 NBA draft, Victor Wembanyama, landed a $55 million deal.

Hoda Kotb on "Today"
Hoda Kotb went on a rant about Caitlin Clark’s “ridiculous” first-year WNBA salary.Hoda & Jenna/NBC

Caitlin Clark playing basketball
The “Today” show co-anchor noted that the athlete will earn significantly less money than the man who was in her position in 2023.Getty Images

“There’s just something about this that’s so disturbing,” Kotb, 59, added. “I mean, I picture all the little girls with signs that say, ‘Caitlin!’ but this is what her contract is worth?”

Kotb’s co-anchor, Savannah Guthrie, chimed in to say, “Hopefully the payday is coming, too.”

The pay disparity evidently remained on Kotb’s mind for hours, as she discussed it again on “Today with Hoda & Jenna” later Tuesday morning.

Hoda Kotb sitting on "Today"
“There’s just something about this that’s so disturbing,” Kotb said.Hoda & Jenna/NBC

Caitlin Clark's salary


Clark will earn $76,535 for her first year playing with the Indiana Fever.Hoda & Jenna/NBC
“I was like, ‘Ah! What’s she gonna get paid?’ Because finally, you can get a real paycheck, and then I saw it, and I was like, ‘This can’t be right,’” she said.

Kotb read Clark’s starting salary of $76,535 and asked, “So this is what the No. 1 player, who’s now at the WNBA, [is earning]?”

Kotb acknowledged that Clark, 22, will earn more money from various endorsements, but she still does not understand how the athlete is making significantly less than Wembanyama, who cashed in $12.1 million for his first season with the San Antonio Spurs last year.

Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager on "Today"
“Honestly, the gap is so jarring,” Jenna Bush Hager chimed in.Hoda & Jenna/NBC

Hoda Kotb on "Today"
Kotb related the WNBA and NBA pay gap to her own life.Hoda & Jenna/NBC
“Honestly, the gap is so jarring,” Jenna Bush Hager said. “The discrepancy when we’re talking about equal pay? That ain’t even close!”

Kotb pointed out that the significant gap is “like picking at an old scab for many women,” including herself.

“Sitting for many years next to co-anchors over the years and not knowing what anyone got paid and then discovering that you’re making like a tiny fraction of what the guy was making next to you,” she recalled.

Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager sitting on "Today"
Kotb went on to jam out to Taylor Swift’s song “The Man.”Hoda & Jenna/NBC

Jenna Bush Hager on "Today"
“She’s shaking!” Bush Hager said of her co-host.Hoda & Jenna/NBC
Kotb credited Clark with putting women’s basketball center stage and inspiring young girls, saying she does not want the salary difference to take away from that.

“I was imagining the little girls with the signs, who were filling the stadiums, who are now obsessed with basketball, with signs that say, ‘Caitlin,’ and society, I guess, is saying, ‘Well, this is what that’s worth right now. That’s worth $76,000,’” she said.

Kotb then went on her phone and started playing Taylor Swift’s song “The Man” before singing the lyrics, “‘Cause if I was a man, then I’d be the man.”

“Hoda’s shaking!” Bush Hager, 42, exclaimed. “When you make Hoda mad, you never know who’s gonna come out.”

Caitlin Clark playing basketball
Clark has been regarded as one of the greatest college athletes of all time.Getty Images

Caitlin Clark posing with Cathy Engelbert
She snatched the No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft Monday.Getty Images
Kotb jokingly ended the segment by putting her hands in a prayer position and saying, “Namaste.”

Clark has skyrocketed to fame over the last few years by breaking several records with the Iowa Hawkeyes and taking home second place in the NCAA tournament.

The former college athlete was anticipated to be the first pick in the WNBA draft, and she successfully clinched the title while wearing head-to-toe Prada.

 

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