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It took Stephen Curry a few years to change basketball for good, and for it, he needed Klay Thompson and a well-oiled machine, that is the Warriors. Caitlin Clark is changing the landscape of women’s basketball like no one before her. But unlike Steph, the 22-year-old is not bringing a revolution in how the game is played. WNBA’s latest #1 pick is rather redefining the financial heights for a female basketball player. Sports apparel juggernauts Nike, with a reported 8-year $28 million deal, as per WSJ, made Clark the biggest endorsement holder in women’s basketball.

To put that in perspective, LeBron James, the face of the NBA struck a $90 million deal in 2003. The same year, Serena Williams took home $40 million, paving the way for female athletes around the globe. It took a basketball player 21 years to reach anywhere near that number and Clark still fell double-digit short of those numbers. But it is still a historic win for women’s basketball. How, you ask? Let’s deep dive right into it.

Only 7 NBA players have signed a bigger rookie shoe endorsement deal than Caitlin Clark.

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  • Lakers’ billionaire LeBron James tops that chart with his 7-year $90 million contract which he signed coming in as a high school sensation in ’03.
  • 2019 draftee Zion Williamson follows next with his 5-year $75 million Nike deal.
  • Kevin Durant bagged a $60 million 7-year Nike deal in ’07.
  • 76ers legend Allen “The Answer” Iverson inked a $50 million Reebok deal in ’96, which turned out to be the biggest cultural shifter since Air Jordans!
  • Vince Carter comes next with his 10-year, $50 million deal with Puma in 1998.
  • Then comes Carmelo Anthony’s 6-year $40M deal with Jordan Brand in 03′ followed by,
  • Grant Hill’s $30M 5-year contract with Fila.

Caitlin Clark overtook John Wall’s $25 million deal with Reebok to beat him and all NBA rookies in the game’s history with her latest incentive with Nike, which will get her over $3 million/year.

That raises a question, how much will the ex-Iowa star make in WNBA?

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Caitlin Clark’s WNBA contract

This is where the disparity still makes the NBA a different ball game altogether. Clark will make a mere $76,535 in her rookie year as a #1 pick in the WNBA. In an overall 4-year deal worth $338k, Spotrac claimed that her salary will increase year by year and she will take home $97,582 in the fourth year.

Soon after she was drafted, the WNBA’s Commissioner, Cathy Engelbert revealed, “Caitlin has the ability to make up to a half of a million dollars just in WNBA wages this year, so they’re just looking at a base, which is collectively bargained and [what is reported is] actually is low, because she’s the No. 1 pick.”

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On the other hand in NBA, Victor Wembanyama and several other rookies before him made more than $10 million in their 1st year. Notably, the WNBA current players receive a revised salary after 2020 which is set under the current union collective bargaining agreement. However, there is a lot of catching up to do.

But with Caitlin’s global recognition, good paydays are not too far for female athletes. And the WNBA already got a glimpse of her stardom after the former Hawkeye star reportedly pulled in 3.09 million viewers during her draft!