WNBA star A’ja Wilson weighs in on pro basketball gender pay gap: 'It's going to turn'

WNBA star A’ja Wilson weighs in on pro basketball gender pay gap: 'It's going to turn'

After the 2024 WNBA draft earlier this month, shock over the pay gap between the women's league and NBA went viral — specifically around what No. 1 pick Caitlin Clark is expected to make.

At the Time100 gala red carpet on April 25 in New York City, Las Vegas Aces center A’ja Wilson, who was being honored at the event, weighed in on recent headlines calling out the discrepancy between the WNBA and NBA rookie salaries.

“I feel like it happens all the time, when we’re in the draft, everybody always brings the contracts up and sees the difference, but it’s been like that for years,” Wilson, a former WNBA No. 1 pick herself, told

2024 Time100 Gala (Taylor Hill / FilmMagic)
2024 Time100 Gala (Taylor Hill / FilmMagic)

“Now, it’s just up to us to continue to have a voice, and continue to have people invested in us and want to be real and take care of us as players, as athletes, and then we go from there,” Wilson added.

Clark is expected to make $76,535 in salary in her rookie season with the Indiana Fever, based on the WNBA’s rookie wage scale, according to contract tracking site Spotrac. (Clark also had lucrative endorsement deals dating from her college years and was reportedly set to sign a $28 million deal with Nike.)

By comparison, Victor Wembanyama, No. 1 pick in the NBA draft last year, earned $12.1 million his rookie year for the San Antonio Spurs, according to Sportrac. The 2024 NBA draft is slated to take place on June 26.

But with the strong momentum going into the WNBA season, Wilson remains optimistic that change to the historic pay gap could be on the horizon.

“I feel like it’s going to turn, it’s going to turn, and we’re going to really be in a good spot," Wilson told

This year, the NCAA Women’s Tournament brought in record viewership numbers.

The South Carolina Gamecocks-Iowa Hawkeyes women’s final surpassed the men’s UConn-Purdue game in viewership by over 4 million views, a first in the history of the NCAA, according to ratings firm Nielsen.

Clark’s popularity on the court has undoubtedly brought newfound interest to women’s basketball, which Wilson said at the April 24 Time100 Summit has been “kind of amazing” to see.

LSU v Iowa (Andy Lyons / Getty Images)
LSU v Iowa (Andy Lyons / Getty Images)

“I feel like I can scream off the rooftops, like, ‘It’s about time that you guys really started to see us,'" she told

"But I think it’s just really being out there, people are seeing, people are invested in it, and I just hope that it goes all the way through,” she added, noting that she’s seen similar spikes “fizz out” before.

The center and South Carolina alum is no stranger to eyes being on her: She's a two-time WNBA champion, a five-time WNBA All-Star, an Olympic gold medalist from the 2020 Tokyo games, and now a 2024 Time100 honoree, which she was nominated for by retired NFL great Tom Brady.

She’s also no stranger to the wage gap between the NBA and WNBA, as she was the No. 1 draft pick in 2018 when she was selected by the Las Vegas Aces. At the time, she signed a four-year, $232,178 contract, averaging to $58,045 a year, according to Spotrac.

USA Basketball - Women's National Team Training Camp (Mike Lawrie / Getty Images)
USA Basketball - Women's National Team Training Camp (Mike Lawrie / Getty Images)

In a video posted by Time earlier this week, Wilson weighed in on what can be done moving forward to ensure the pay gap starts to be bridged.

“I feel like a lot of talk is great, but how can we invest, what can we do. Can we go to games? How can we sell more jerseys, how can we put more eyes on our games? And it’s coming, it really is, it’s there, but I hope it continues,” she told the outlet.

Front Office Sports reports that the WNBA's current media rights contract, which is set to expire in 2024, pays the league about $60 million a year.

Meanwhile, the NBA currently makes $2.7 billion a year from a $24 billion television deal, according to Sports Business Journal. The league is currently in negotiations with several partners on a new media rights deal, which is set to go into place after the 2024-2025 season.

For the WNBA, increasing viewership and getting more people to go to games is key, as it can result in larger TV contracts and ultimately help salaries increase, experts say.

But in this moment, before the WNBA season kicks off May 14, Wilson tells that it’s a “beautiful, powerful moment” for the women's league, and that she’s “glad to be part of something like this.”

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