Apr 18, 2024 - News

Phoenix Mercury's highest paid player earns a fraction of what Arizona's male stars do

Data: Spotrac; Chart: Axios Visuals

Phoenix Mercury All-Star wing Kahleah Copper is the highest-paid athlete on her team with an average annual salary of about $245,000. Compare her to Suns superstar Kevin Durant who has an average annual salary of $48.6 million.

The big picture: Sports, like most industries, has a gender pay gap.

  • Caitlin Clark was the No. 1 pick at Monday's WNBA draft. Her record-breaking NCAA performance created more interest in women's basketball.
  • But Clark's base salary for her rookie season is $76,535. In the NBA, the first draft pick's base salary could be as high as $10.5 million, Vox reports.

Stunning stat: Clark's entire WNBA team combined will get paid about the same as one random back-bench NBA player next year, Axios' Sam Baker writes.

Context: The NBA brings in more than $10 billion in revenue annually, while the WNBA's projected total revenue in 2023 was about $200 million.

Yes, but: According to Just Women's Sports, WNBA players receive 50% of the league's incremental revenue. NBA players receive 50% of all revenue.

  • That means WNBA players share in only the revenue earned above the league's revenue target for that season. The revenue target goes up by 20% each season, but the actual numbers are unknown.

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

What we're watching: Whether the WNBA can capitalize on this moment. Clark helped the league shatter its draft viewership record as it averaged 2.45 million viewers Monday night, according to ESPN. The previous high was 601,000 in 2004.

Editor's note: This chart was corrected to reflect that the athletes' salaries are average annual salaries.

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