Caitlin Clark: She’s the whirlwind that brought glory to women’s basketball, but Caitlin Clark’s surprisingly low WNBA base salary has been revealed. Social networks cause controversy

Caitlin Clark’s Shockingly Low WNBA Base Salary Is Revealed

A celebratory moment for the star player has now been punctuated by the proclamation of a pitiful paycheck.

Caitlin Clark during the 2024 WNBA Draft on April 15, 2024 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in Brooklyn, New York.

Caitlin Clark is making how much?!

On Monday, the college basketball superstar was selected No. 1 overall in Monday’s WNBA draft by the Indiana Fever, a celebratory moment for the star which has now been punctuated by news of a shockingly paltry paycheck.

Clark will be paid a base salary of $338,056 over the next four years, a number which is easily dwarfed by even the one year salaries of her male counterparts.

Victor Wembanyama, the No.1 draft pick in the NBA was set to make $55 million in his first four years, and $12.1 million in his first year alone. By comparison Clark, and other draft picks 2-4, will only pocket $76,535 in their first year, according to the WNBA’s collective bargaining agreement.

The blatant discrepancy is unfortunately nothing new, as channels like ESPN have never had to pay much to stream women’s basketball. According to SportsPro Media, the WNBA has an annual broadcast revenue of $60 million, as opposed to the NBA’s $2.7 billion.

Players’ pay discrepancy reflects that. In 2023, the average WNBA player was paid a base salary of $113,295, while the average NBA player was paid a base salary of $9.7 million, according to Vox. Clark still stands to make millions of dollars from endorsements, and as she and her fellow star athletes raise the profile of women’s sports it’s entirely possible the payouts will increase.


Clark was selected by the Fever in this year's draft

Still, the small salary has dismayed those who have followed Clark throughout her season, as she has sold out stadiums and been a tour-de-force on the court.

“This can’t be right,” said Today show host Hoda Kotb, who expressed her own disappointment and confusion over the lame base salary during her show on Tuesday.

“I was imagining the little girls with the signs who were filling the stadium, who are now obsessed with basketball, with signs that say Caitlin, and society, I guess, is saying well, this is what that’s worth,” said Hoda, sighing.

“Honestly the gap is so jarring,” said co-host Jenna Bush Hager. “We’re talking about equal pay. That ain’t even close.”

Russel Wilson, quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers posted about Clark’s salary on X on Monday. “These ladies deserve so much more… Praying for the day,” he wrote.

How Much Will Caitlin Clark Make in the WNBA?

Portrait of Danielle Cohen

2024 WNBA Draft


On Monday evening, collegiate basketball stars and WNBA hopefuls gathered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music for the 2024 WNBA draft. As expected, record-breaking Iowa Hawkeyes superstar Caitlin Clark was selected as the first pick by the Indiana Fever, locking in what will most likely be a historic professional career. According to Spotrac, she signed a four-year $338,000 contract, which will pay $76,535 this year and increase through 2027, topping out at $97,582 in 2027.

Needless to say, this is not the salary one expects college basketball’s top scorer of all time to make in her first year playing professionally. WNBA players face a steep pay gap compared to their male counterparts. To put Clark’s salary in perspective, last year’s top NBA draft pick, Victor Wembanyama, signed a four-year contract with the San Antonio Spurs for $55 million. In the WNBA, salaries currently top out around $240,000, which is less than the lowest-earning player in the NBA (and most NBA wages are in the millions). The earnings are so low that players often supplement their salaries by playing abroad, which was what Brittney Griner was doing when she was arrested in Russia in 2022.

The pay inequity reflects the unfortunate fact that women’s basketball is just not as widely watched as men’s (at least, not yet). Though the WNBA’s revenue is growing — the league brought in close to $200 million last year — it’s still a fraction of what the NBA, which recently surpassed $10 billion, pulls in. At the same time, the WNBA’s players union signed a contract in 2020 that makes it difficult for players to reap the benefits of their league’s sudden revenue growth. They’re expected to abandon the agreement next year.

Though female basketball players are paid particularly poorly, the salary gap is also glaring in other sports. Even after the women’s national team successfully sued the U.S. Soccer Federation over unequal pay in 2022, CNN reported that female players were earning a quarter of what their male counterparts made at last year’s World Cup. Amid an ongoing debate about whether college athletes should be able to make money off their personal brands, University of Michigan found that, nationwide, female college athletes got about half as much compensation for their name, image, and likeness as male players.

On the bright side, Clark, who had a Nike deal during her college career, is expected to earn millions of dollars via endorsements. Considering she helped make women’s basketball the sport to watch this spring, I hope sneaker brands are willing to cough up a fair sum.

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