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Shaq Tells Fans Upset About Pay Disparities Between NBA and WNBA to Go Buy the Women’s League’s Tickets and Merchandise

Retired professional basketball player and businessman Shaquille O’Neal says there is a way that fans can have an impact on the pay disparity between the WNBA and the NBA: Support with your dollars.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – MAY 18: Shaquille O’Neal, Inside the NBA, Turner Sports attends the Warner Bros. Discovery Upfront 2022 arrivals on the red carpet at The Theater at Madison Square Garden on May 18, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Warner Bros. Discovery)

The Los Angeles Laker understands that contracts are distributed based on returns on each of the franchise’s investments and the hard truth about women’s basketball is that up until recently sports fans typically don’t care to see female ballers over their male counterparts. They also don’t support in ticket sales, merch and in other ways.

Money Talks

“This was the first time in my career that I woke up and wanted to watch women and not really care about the men,” Shaq admitted, adding his two cents in on the pay inequity conversation, “I saw the young ladies’ salaries leaked online and people are in an uproar. It’s now time for people to start supporting the women like they support the men.”

Adding, “It’s all about the economics. We can pay our guys these crazy contracts because we generate a lot of money. So now that there’s excitement behind Caitlin [Clark] and Angel [Reese], make sure you go and support them.”

WNBA Salaries

In 2020, the average salaries in the WNBA were about $80,000, and the league’s total payroll was about $12.5 million. 

That payroll is sustained, as indicated by sports journalist David Berri, through the league’s television deal with ESPN and ABC, alongside its minimum ticket prices. Berri estimates that the league may have secured $60 million in annual revenue, with WNBA players receiving about 20 percent of league revenue.

In the same year, the players successfully negotiated a stronger Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), which boosted average salaries to approximately $130,000 and total league payroll to around $20.3 million. If revenues remained at $60 million, then following the implementation of the new CBA, players were receiving approximately 34 percent of league revenue. In contrast, NBA players, who typically enjoy greater star power, receive 50 percent of the league’s basketball-related revenue.

Despite those negotiations, in 2024, college basketball star Caitlin Clark will earn just under $77,000 in her rookie WNBA season, whereas the top male NBA draft pick will earn more than $10 million.

Her starting salary with the Indiana Fever will be $76,535 and earn roughly $338,000 over the four-year contract she signed with the Fever.

The second, third, and fourth picks in this year’s draft will also earn $76,535 in their first year, as stipulated by the league’s collective bargaining agreement.

The base annual pay for all four athletes will experience only a modest increase over the next few years — $78,066 in 2025, $85,873 in 2026, and $97,582 in 2027.

The 15-time All-Star said that there is a way to help the female players to be compensated better.

“Buy the jerseys, buy the tickets, show up at the games,” he said.  

“The more money that they make the more money they will be able to make,” the businessman, who has an estimated net worth of $500 million, said,  “It’s a great turnaround for the ladies, but now, time for the people to really start supporting.”

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