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Caitlin Clark Will Make Less in the WNBA Than the Average Detective

  • Caitlin Clark will make less in the WNBA than some business jobs — and than the average athlete.
  • The salary gap is due to income differences between the NBA and WNBA.
  • Despite his low base salary, Clark could earn over $3 million through sponsorship and brand endorsements.

Caitlin Clark is the first overall pick in the 2024 National Basketball Association Women’s Draft. And she will be paid less than the average acupuncturist, elevator repairman, and police detective in the United States.

On Monday, the Indiana Fever selected Clark, who broke the NCAA career scoring record in men’s and women’s basketball earlier this year. Clark, who wore a $17,000 Prada outfit during the draft, will earn an estimated base salary of $76,535 in his first year.

For comparison, the average acupuncturist in the United States earned $84,260 last year, according to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average detective earned $95,930 last year.

Salaries are negotiated by the WNBA players union. Lower-tier draft picks earn $64,154 in base salary, but salaries are much higher for non-starter players: The highest-paid WNBA players earn more than $200,000 in base salary.

“In third grade, I wrote on a piece of paper, ‘Get drafted into the WNBA, win a basketball scholarship,’ just like that. And I think I was able to check so many boxes and then this is another one and I feel like I’m ready for this chapter of my life,” Clark said in a television interview minutes before the draft.

To put Clark’s salary in perspective, the top pick in the 2024 NBA Draft is expected to bring in $10 million in his first year. The first NFL draft will bring in around $7 million. The average American athlete across all spectator sports earned $370,690 last year, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The salary gap comes from the difference in income between the men’s and women’s divisions of basketball leagues. Revenue, which comes from ticket sales, merchandise, food and beverage sales and local broadcast rights, is used to pay players’ salaries. The NBA brings in more than $10 billion annually, while the WNBA had an estimated $200 million in revenue last year, according to Bloomberg.

Revenue sharing models also differ between leagues.

The NBA shares about half of all its revenue with players, while the WNBA shares an additional 50% of revenue — excess money once the league hits a revenue goal.

Despite his low base salary, Clark, who has more than two million followers on social media, is expected to earn a lot of money from sponsorship and brand endorsements. Data tracker On3 estimated she was worth more than $3 million from name, image and likeness deals this year. It has agreements with Nike, Gatorade and State Farm Insurance.


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