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Brittney Griner Says, ‘As Much as I Would Love to Pay My Light Bill’ She Won’t Play Overseas Again, Despite Big Paychecks

By Ella Ceron

Brittney Griner doesn’t plan on playing in overseas basketball leagues again, even though that’s how many in the Women’s National Basketball Association supplement their pay. 

PHOENIX, ARIZONA – APRIL 27: Brittney Griner of the Phoenix Mercury speaks during a “Bring Our Families Home” press conference at Footprint Center on April 27, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. Griner was jailed in Russia for almost 10 months in 2022. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

“The whole reason a lot of us go over is the pay gap,” said Griner in her first press conference since returning to the US after being detained in Russia for 10 months on drug charges. “A lot of us go over there to make income to support our families, to support ourselves. I don’t knock any player that wants to go overseas and make a little bit extra money.”

Under their current contract, WNBA players can make a maximum of $234,936 during the 2023 season. That’s four times less than the minimum salary NBA players pulled in last season — and nowhere near the multimillion-dollar contracts the biggest male stars nab. Overseas gigs for women can bring in million dollar paydays. 

Griner supplemented her WNBA pay check by playing in Russia during the off season. After returning to the US in December, she signed a one year contract for $165,100, according to ESPN. 

A spokesperson for the WNBA said in a statement that prize pool money, bonuses and marketing deals can allow players to make more than $750,000 per year. “As we build on the league’s business transformation — where corporate partnerships and media rights deals play a major part in — compensation will continue to grow and the player experience will continue to improve,” the spokesperson said.

Griner said she hopes advertisers and sponsors support the league to help improve player pay.

“I hope a lot of these companies start to invest in our craft because we have a really good craft,” she said. “It’s a shame that we have to leave our families for holidays, I mean, you’re missing everything being away.” 

The WNBA is expected to bring in as much as $200 million in combined league and team revenue this year, around double 2019 figures. Yet player pay has not kept up with the growing popularity of the sport. The NBA, by comparison, projected $10 billion in revenue for the 2021-2022 season. 

“As much as I would love to pay my light bill for the love of the game, I can’t,” she said. “That’s one of the biggest reason for people going overseas and that’s why I was there. I’m hoping that changes though.”

(Corrects update in 5th paragraph with statement from the WNBA.)

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What people are saying

14 thoughts on “Brittney Griner Says, ‘As Much as I Would Love to Pay My Light Bill’ She Won’t Play Overseas Again, Despite Big Paychecks

  1. Douglas Shaw says:

    If she can’t pay a light bill with 165k more money isn’t the problem.

  2. Mark Winchester says:

    Get a real job in the off season if you can’t pay on what you make you are living above your means

  3. Gun says:

    Imagine thinking you’re entitled to hundreds of thousands of dollars because you play basketball…

  4. Tony Smith says:

    Think being a CEO for a company entitled you to make million dollars and millions in stock options. Those judging the skills of an athlete as being non essential are hypocrites and borderline racist…

  5. Juanita White says:

    Downlow racist responses by a bunch of jealous wyiate boys, not men.

  6. RP Benedict says:

    She is a he anyway. Go to the NBA you worthless cry baby. Then you will find out what you are truly worth. Nada. And oh, thanks for standing up for women’s rights, now go away

  7. Genevieve says:

    Some of these folks act like she’s asking for a handout. She didn’t. She took herself to work in another country to live the life she wanted. Your approval wasn’t requested or required. You do you Brittany

  8. Michi Kaputnik says:

    Evidently the Pay & Endorsements, are
    Not very good. Better Marketing of the
    Product are needed. Fight for better pay or
    Strike for better Contracts.

  9. Gus says:

    Funny how the country you so hate is still the safest place for you to live in…

  10. Robin L says:

    All the guys whining that women should – do something. They just don’t want them oaid equally.

  11. Ann Bekman says:

    She deserved what she got. She took an illegal substance into a country that hates us and wonders why she got detained. 100k is a LOT of money. Biden left Whelan behind while giving up the merchant of death for a BASKETBALL player.

  12. Patrick Bochenek says:

    Wah, wah. She played in Russia a couple of times. Made well in excess of 1million $$. Don’t have any sympathy for her at all. Nothing but an overly entitled worthless pos!!

  13. Work like the rest of us off season

  14. Hugh Janus says:

    I liked her better when she was in a Russian prison, send it back

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