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Apr 18, 2024 - News

Indy's sports salary gap

Data: Spotrac; Chart: Axios Visuals. Correction: The chart subhead was corrected to reflect that the salaries are average annual salaries.

Have you heard how much Caitlin Clark will make during her rookie WNBA season or are you Patrick Star?

State of play: The Indiana Fever selected the college basketball phenom as the No. 1 pick during Monday's WNBA draft.

  • Her record-breaking NCAA performance created more interest in women's basketball but many new fans were shook to learn that Clark's base salary is $76,535 in her first year with the league.

The other side: The No. 1 pick in the NBA draft is expected to make more than $10 million in their rookie season.

Why it matters: It's elevating an important conversation about the long-standing gender pay gap in sports.

By the numbers: Axios used Spotrac, which tracks professional sports contracts, to review the average annual salaries of Indy's top-paid players on our NFL, NBA and WNBA teams from the recent year.

  • Fever guard Erica Wheeler makes $222,154, while Pacers power forward Pascal Siakam makes $34 million.
  • Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. makes $23 million.

Context: The NBA brought in more than $10 billion in revenue annually during its 82-game season, while the WNBA's projected total revenue was about $200 million for its 40-game season.

  • The NFL made nearly $20 billion.

Yes, but: The disparity is driven by more than the revenue gap.

  • WNBA players don't have the same revenue share agreements as NBA players, either.
  • According to Just Women's Sports, WNBA players receive 50% of the league's incremental revenue, which is what comes in above a revenue target set by the league (and hasn't been met).
  • NBA players receive 50% of all revenue.

What's next: WNBA players can opt out of their current union agreements later in November and negotiate for a better share, higher pay and other benefits.

  • The WNBA season begins May 14.
  • The Fever's first home game is a preseason matchup against Atlanta May 10.

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