Inside Caitlin Clark, Angel Reese WNBA contracts and how they work

Inside Caitlin Clark, Angel Reese WNBA contracts and how they work originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

One day after the Indiana Fever made Caitlin Clark the No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA draft, much has been made about her seemingly small $76,535 salary for her upcoming reason. As one of the most popular athletes in the country– regardless of gender or sport– one would imagine her contract would match her star turn in women’s basketball.

However, Clark and the Fever don’t have any say in her pay. That’s because the WNBA follows a predetermined pay scale. Here’s how it works.

The top four picks in the WNBA draft make $76,535 in year one, $78,066 in year two and $85,873 in year three. Teams then have the opportunity to pick up a fourth-year option for $97,582. That means the first four women selected in the draft will all make just over $338,000 in their first four seasons (assuming all of their fourth-year options are exercised).

That also means new Chicago Sky forward Kamilla Cardoso will make the same amount of money as Clark (and No. 2 selection Cameron Brink and No. 4 selection Rickea Jackson) since she was the No. 3 overall pick.

From there, the pay scale dips a bit for the Nos. 5-8 picks, dips again for picks 9-12 and then again from 13-24 and 25-36.

Fellow rookie Sky forward Angel Reese was selected with the No. 7 so she falls in the second bracket. Reese is scheduled to make $73,439 in 2024, $74,909 in 2025, $82,399 in 2026 with a potential fourth-year option worth $93,636. That comes out to a grand total of $324,383.

That’s a far cry from the four-year, $55 million deal Victor Wembanyama signed with the Spurs as the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft last year

Why so low for all of these talented women? Media rights deals and ticket sales for the WNBA are much further behind the NBA. According to Front Office Sports, the WNBA brings in $60 million a year from its current media rights deal. Meanwhile, the NBA’s media rights deal pays $2.7 billion annually.

The WNBA’s current media deal is set to expire in 2025, so if Clark, Reese and co. drive TV viewership and ticket sales considerably, the pay scales for the athletes could climb, too.