Before we launch a GoFundMe page for Caitlin Clark, who will make a comparatively paltry $76,535 as a WNBA rookie this season, consider that the basketball phenom is poised to sign an eight-figure endorsement deal with Nike that will include her own signature shoe.

Caitlin Clark will be just fine.

It’s the other women’s basketball players we should be worried about. Remember, the WNBA is the same league that features Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner, who in 2022, spent nearly 300 days in a Russian jail after being wrongfully detained on a trumped-up drug smuggling charge.

The only reason Griner was even in Russia was because she couldn’t make enough money playing the game she loves in her own country – and she is one of the higher paid players.

How bad is the WNBA’s starting salary? Yahoo Sports just posted a job on LinkedIn that pays almost as much, $73,000 to start, to post about the NBA and WNBA on social media.

Clark’s contract has predictably sparked discussion and debate over pay equity and the ever growing gender gap. Even President Joe Biden weighed in on the controversy, calling for women to be “paid what they deserve.”


“Women in sports continue to push new boundaries and inspire us all,” the president posted on his X account. “But right now we’re seeing that even if you’re the best, women are not paid their fair share. It’s time that we give our daughters the same opportunities as our sons and ensure women are paid what they deserve.”

Clark will pocket $338,056 over four years under her contract with the WNBA’s Indiana Fever. In contrast, last year’s No. 1 NBA draft pick – 7 foot, 4 inch Victor Wembanyama – secured a $55 million, four-year contract. In fact, the NBA’s lowest paid player, Mouhamed Gueye of the Atlanta Hawks makes a little more than $1.1 million, a sum that still dwarfs most WNBA salaries.

“Steph Curry makes more per game than what Caitlin Clark is making for 4 years!” journalist Lisa Ling wrote on Instagram. “With the toll sports and travel take on women’s bodies, is this even a living wage?”

Of course Clark should be making more. As a legend at the University of Iowa, Clark made history as the NCAA’s Division I all-time leading scorer. More importantly, her play has increased interest and viewership of the game. Her first-round pick helped to drive a 304% increase in viewership for the WNBA draft this week, shattering previous ratings records with 2.46 million viewers on ESPN.

But paying women basketball players what they deserve doesn’t mean paying them what men make. And it’s not sexist to say so. Neither is it sexist to say that most men – and women – prefer to watch the NBA. Comparing what WNBA players make to NBA salaries is like comparing apples and tractor trailer parts.

The name of the game is revenue, and the men’s game generates much more of it. The WNBA has a TV contract worth $60 million. The NBA’s contract is worth $2.7 billion. How much bigger is that? It’s like standing Wembanyama next to Dawn Staley. Staley just won her third national title as coach of the University of South Carolina, beating Clark and the University of Iowa in a game that drew 18.9 million viewers, the most-watched women’s basketball game of all time

“Caitlin Clark is the sole reason why viewership has shot through the roof for our game – the sole reason,” Staley said.

That’s high praise from a woman who is already in the Basketball Hall of Fame. Clark’s presence in the game has been a slam dunk, which appears to be the only thing she can’t do.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.