The Truth About Caitlin Clark’s Contract and Gender Pay

Women's basketball star Caitlin Clark with Jake from State Farm.

By Todd Huff Published on April 27, 2024

Last week, Caitlin Clark was drafted into the WNBA by the Indiana Fever. 

Shortly thereafter, information about her contract was released to the public. And it didn’t take long before the predictable narrative began — which was some variation of the following:

“Caitlin Clark is a victim of the gender pay gap.”

“The massive pay disparity between Caitlin Clark and the NBA players proves that women are paid much less for the same amount of work.”

Hogwash, my friends. She absolutely is not the victim of a gender pay gap. 

And if we invest just five minutes into analyzing that claim, it’ll become clear to any free-thinking, fair-minded, objective person. 

Caitlin Clark’s Contract

Let’s start by taking a look at her contract. According to sources, her annual salary will break down like this:

  • 2024: $76,535
  • 2025: $78,066
  • 2026: $85,873
  • 2027 (fourth-year option): $97,582

When we compare Clark’s contract with the average NBA contract, there is obviously a massive discrepancy. 

Not About Gender Inequality

The average annual NBA salary is approximately $10,000,000. And the first pick of the 2024 NBA draft is expected to earn slightly more – about $10,500,000. 

That’s a dramatic difference, for sure. Especially when we recognize that Caitlin Clark is the biggest name in women’s’ basketball right now — and probably one of the biggest names in all of basketball. 

So I can hear it now: “See, Todd! This is proof that women are paid substantially less than men in professional sports simply because they’re women!”

But that isn’t true. 

I don’t deny that WNBA players earn less — substantially less — than their NBA counterparts. However, claiming someone is a victim of the gender pay gap means that she is earning less simply because she is a woman.  

But that isn’t why Clark is earning less. She is earning less because the WNBA is not nearly as successful as the NBA. 

The cold, hard truth is that not a single woman would be paid to play professional basketball if it were not for the incredible success of the NBA. At least not yet

The WNBA has long been subsidized directly and indirectly by the NBA. In fact, from what I can gather in my research, it appears that the NBA invests $15,000,000 a year in the WNBA. 

It should also be noted that the WNBA operates under the very valuable and powerful NBA brand, which is no small matter. In addition to that, the WNBA can leverage the overall operational system and infrastructure of the NBA – which is also significant. 

The NBA has long acted as the WNBA’s big brother. I have no problem with this. The NBA can do whatever it wants. My problem is that some are pretending these two leagues are in some objective way comparable. 

Outside of dribbling and shooting basketballs professionally, let me unequivocally state that there is absolutely no substantive, measurable, objective similarity between these two enterprises. 

League Revenue & Profits

Consider annual revenue. 

In the 2022-23 season, the NBA generated $10,580,000,000 (that’s billion) in annual revenue. 

The WNBA? Just $60,000,000 (that’s million) in 2022 and a projected $180,000,000 — 200,000,000 in 2023. 

If those numbers are correct, the growth is phenomenal. But it’s still but a tiny portion of what the NBA generates. In fact, these numbers mean that the NBA generates somewhere between 50 and 60 times the revenue of the WNBA.

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Let’s take a look at profitability. 

The NBA pockets about 30% of the $10.5 or so billion it produces. 

The WNBA? Well, it operated at an annual loss of $10-$12 million for decades. If there is an exception to that, it would be in 2023. But I was unable to find profits for that year. (It is just a tad bit curious that this important figure isn’t readily available.) 

Perhaps the WNBA was profitable in 2023. I hope it was. But one year of profitability is not going to erase more than a quarter century of $10 million annual losses. 

And therein lies the problem. If the league isn’t profitable, what is it supposed to use to pay its players? No amount of wishful thinking or virtue signaling can make one iota of difference to this reality.

The Way to Earn More

My friends, the Left is up in arms about this entire situation. Or at least they’re seizing an opportunity to change the political narrative from that of high inflation, low wages, and a world on the brink of WWIII.  This entire thing is pure silliness and is chock full of teachable moments for those who care to learn from them. 

I hope Caitlin Clark becomes a champion who makes as much money as the market will bear.  But phony narratives and baseless claims won’t help her do that. Growing the WNBA brand and its viewership will, though. 

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that Caitlin Clark is expected to sign a shoe endorsement deal with Nike worth $28 million over eight years.  The Nike deal is but one of the endorsements Clark has landed; others include Gatorade, Panini, and State Farm.  

Todd Huff hosts the syndicated Todd Huff Show and also is is a podcaster, a dynamic columnist, and an insightful political/cultural commentator. His journey began in 2015, podcasting from his closet, a testament to his grassroots approach. Hailing from the heart of small-town USA in flyover country, Todd embodies the spirit of common sense in today’s discourse, proudly advocating a conservative but not bitter perspective.

Originally published at ToddHuffShow.com. Reprinted with Permission. 

 

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