Fans and Celebrities React to Caitlin Clark’s WNBA Salary: ‘These Ladies Deserve More’

Clark, the no. 1 pick in the 2024 draft, will make a total of $338,056 in her first four years in the WNBA

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Caitlin Clark at The Empire State Building on April 15, 2024 in New York City.

Caitlin Clark will make $338,056 in her first four years in the WNBA

Her salary sparked discourse around the disparity between NBA and WNBA players

Steelers quarterback Russell Wilson said “these ladies deserve more” after Clark’s salary was revealed

As the star power of this year’s WNBA draft class brings more eyes to the women’s league, fans and public figures are shocked by the salary disparity in comparison to the NBA. The commentary comes after no. 1 overall pick Caitlin Clark‘s salary was revealed online.

According to Spotrac, Clark — the 22-year-old player who was drafted first by the Indiana Fever on April 15 — will reportedly make $76,535 in her first year, $78,066 in her second, $85,873 in 2026, and $97,582 in 2027. In total, she will earn $338,056 during her first four years in the league.

In comparison, Forbes reported that Victor Wembanyama, last year’s first overall pick in the NBA draft, will earn $55.7 million in his first four years. This season, the smallest player contract in the NBA belongs to Toronto Raptors’ Javon Freeman-Liberty, who will make $289,542 this season, according to ESPN.

Mike Lawrence/NBAE via Getty

Caitlin Clark smiles during the 2024 WNBA Draft

Related: Caitlin Clark Selected First Overall by Indiana Fever During 2024 WNBA Draft

Sportrac’s post on X (formerly known as Twitter) garnered lots of reaction, with one user commenting, “They need to pay them more.. that’s ridiculous.”

NFL star Russell Wilson also reacted to Clark’s salary in a post on X. “These ladies deserve so much more…Praying for the day,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, Oscar winner Jamie Lee Curtisposted a graphic on Instagram originally shared by Today, explaining why “some fans are outraged” by Clark’s salary. Curtis, 65, shared her feelings by writing, “This is OUTRAGEOUS.”

During Today‘s Tuesday morning broadcast, co-anchor Hoda Kotb said, “When I saw the number, $76,000 in the first year and $78,000 in the second year, and $85,000 in the third year, for somebody who is now the face of women’s basketball, it seemed kind of ridiculous.” 

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The difference in salaries between the men’s and women’s leagues has long been an issue for WNBA fans, but it’s not for lack of trying by the women’s league. Just before the start of the 2023 WNBA season, commissioner Cathy Engelbert spoke to PEOPLE about the changes she hopes to make in the coming years. First on the list is flying teams via charter flights and increasing salaries for players.

It’s important to note, however, that Engelbert’s league is 60 years younger than the NBA, has only 12 teams to the NBA’s 30, and can only accommodate a total of 144 players.

“People ask why we aren’t in the same place as the men’s league,” Engelber told PEOPLE, citing gripes from fans and players regarding commercial travel and the shortage of roster spots forcing top draft picks out of the league. She added, “What will help is expanding the number of teams. I haven’t been shy about talking about expansion.”

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Caitlin Clark poses with WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert after being selected first overall pick by the Indiana Fever during the 2024 WNBA Draft

Related: Bowen Yang Gushes About Caitlin Clark and Iowa Team After SNL Cameo: ‘The Most Stunning, Noble People’ (Exclusive)

“You’ve got to build an economic model to fund everything they want; higher pay, travel benefits, etc. It’s important our players understand where we get our revenue, where all the expenses are going and their questions around that,” the commissioner continued.

“We’re trying to change the narrative – that we are a sports, media and entertainment property, growth property, that will deploy this capital and marketing stars, building rivalries and globalizing the game,” she said.

Sarah Stier/Getty

Angel Reese poses with WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert after being selected seventh overall pick by the Chicago Sky during the 2024 WNBA Draft at Brooklyn Academy of Music on April 15, 2024 in New York City.

And with Clark’s star power, as well as household names like Angel Reese and Kamilla Cardoso entering the league, the WNBA is certainly on the right track to accommodating higher salaries for players.

Not only did the Fever confirmed to ESPN there was a “surge” in ticket sales since Clark declared for the draft, the WNBA announced that the team will play 36 of their 40 games next season to a televised audience. Last season, only a single Fever game was televised.

And the WNBA’s back-to-back champions, the Las Vegas Aces, are moving their preseason matchup with the Fever from Michelob Ultra’s 12,000 seat capacity to T-Mobile Arena to accommodate an additional 8,000 fans looking to see Clark in person, according to CBS News.

Clark will play her first game on May 3 in a preseason matchup with the Dallas Wings.

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