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Caitlin Clark's $76K WNBA Salary Leaves Even President Biden Befuddled With Startling Gender Pay Gap: What Gives?

Published 17/04/2024, 10:46
© Reuters.  Caitlin Clark's $76K WNBA Salary Leaves Even President Biden Befuddled With Startling Gender Pay Gap: What Gives?

Benzinga - by Ramakrishnan M, Benzinga Editor.

College basketball phenomenon Caitlin Clark‘s arrival in the WNBA has sparked a national conversation, not about her game, but about her pay.

What Happened: Drafted first overall by the Indiana Fever, Clark will earn a base salary of $76,535 — a stark contrast to the millions commanded by top NBA rookies, as per a Wall Street Journal report.

For perspective, that’s just over $13,000 higher than the median annual wage for college graduates in 2023, as per the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The NBA’s top pick, Victor Wembanyama, will make nearly 159 times more, as per the report. This disparity has reignited the debate about the gender pay gap in professional sports.

President Joe Biden himself has weighed in on the issue. “Women in sports continue to push new boundaries and inspire us all," he wrote on X.

"But right now we're seeing that even if you're the best, women are not paid their fair share.”

Why The Yawning Gap? Unlike college athletics, where Title IX mandates gender equity, professional sports operate on a market-driven model.

The NBA, a global phenomenon with decades of history, boasts massive TV deals compared to the younger, 12-team WNBA. This translates to significantly lower revenue for the women’s league, impacting player salaries.

Context Matters: Compared to the average WNBA salary of $120,000, as per Her Hoop Stats, Clark’s salary is below average, but rookies typically earn less. With her marketability, Clark has the potential to significantly increase her earnings beyond her base salary.

Clark already has deals with major brands like State Farm and Gatorade. Additionally, she could earn up to $250,000 annually through league marketing initiatives and performance bonuses, according to the Journal.

The Takeaway: While WNBA salaries may seem low, they often represent only a portion of a player’s income. However, the vast pay gap between the leagues remains a glaring issue in the fight for equal pay in professional sports.

Disclaimer: This content was partially produced with the help of AI tools and was reviewed and published by Benzinga editors.

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Image made with photos on Wikimedia Commons and Canva

© 2024 Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.

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