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‘Turned Down the Big3 to Flip Burgers In the WNBA’: Russell Wilson Calls Out WNBA as Fans Say Caitlin Clark Should Take Ice Cube’s $5 Million Big3 Offer

Former Iowa Hawkeyes superstar Caitlin Clark was the top pick of the highly anticipated 2024 WNBA draft. However, fans are shocked to find out that her rookie contract will have her making just slightly more than a general manager at McDonald’s.

On April 15, Clark was drafted by the Indiana Fever. “I think the biggest thing is, I always just believed in myself. I went to Iowa with the goal of taking us to the Final Four. We did it twice. We went to two national championships, four Big Ten Championships,” she told ESPN’s Holly Rowe just moments after.

“But, I told my mom before this, ‘I earned it,’ and that’s why I’m so proud of it,” Clark added.

Six picks later, LSU star Angel Reese heard her name called. Reese will start her professional basketball career with the Chicago Sky.

Russell Wilson Calls Out WNBA as Fans Say Caitlin Clark Should Take Ice Cube's $5 Million Big3 Offer (Photos: @dangerusswilson / Instagram; @caitlinclark22/Instagram; Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Russell Wilson (left) says WNBA players deserve more as a discussion about the first-year salary of Caitlin Clark (center) took shape on social media, prompting some to say she should take a purported $5 million offer from Ice Cube to join his Big3 league. (Photos: @dangerusswilson/Instagram, @caitlinclark22/Instagram, Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Clark and Reese have helped lift women’s college basketball to unprecedented heights. According to Nielsen data, the Elite Eight game between LSU and Iowa averaged 12.3 million viewers on ESPN.

While Clark and Reese both benefited financially from name, image, and likeness (NIL) deals during their college careers, their WNBA salaries took some by surprise. For comparison, Clark’s NIL deals were worth more than an estimated $3 million, according to ON3. In the WNBA, Clark stands to make approximately 10 percent of that over the course of four years.

Per the WNBA’s salary structure, Clark will earn $76,535 in 2024, $78,066 in 2025, $85,873 in 2026, and a $97,582 option in 2027. Clark will likely earn a significant sum via endorsements and other marketing avenues, but the figure is a stark contrast to what top picks in the NBA draft make.

Basketball fans and fellow athletes called out the shocking figures.

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Russell Wilson jumped into the conversation to advocate for WNBA players, saying, “These ladies deserve so much more. Praying for the day.”

Other fans suggested that Caitlin Clark take Ice Cube up on his offer to join the Big3.

The hip-hop artist, actor, film producer, and Big3 co-founder recently raised eyebrows when he extended a “historic offer” to Clark in an attempt to convince her to join the popular 3-on-3 league.

TMZ initially reported that the Big3’s offer was a whopping $5 million.

“We intended the offer to remain private while Caitlin Clark plays for the championship. But I won’t deny what’s now already out there,” Cube wrote on X. “BIG3 made a historic offer to Caitlin Clark. Why wouldn’t we? Caitlin is a generational athlete who can achieve tremendous success in the BIG3.

Cube did not dispute the number when he appeared on ESPN’s “Pat McAfee Show” on March 27.

A $5 million figure would be significantly higher than any base salary Clark could garner in the WNBA. The league’s 12 teams’ salaries are capped at an estimated $1,463,200 per team entering this season, according to data from Spotrac. Currently, no women play in Ice Cube’s Big3 league, but as information about Clark and other WNBA players’ salaries continues to create buzz, many have suggested that Clark should seriously consider Cube’s offer.

“Dear Caitlyn Clark, do not go2the #WNBA Take your talents overseas! Don’t give that league no clout. Let it continue to be the dump it is! Get that #Big3 money and that overseas money and let the women of the wnba continue to hate on you,” said a commenter on X.

“That Caitlyn Clark Contract Is Sick. She Could Make More Money Playing For Ice Cube’s Big 3 League,” another concerned fan tweeted.

Another fan asked, “Caitlyn Clark really turned down the Big 3’s millions to flip burgers in the WNBA?”

On March 29, the 22-year-old addressed Ice Cube’s multimillion-dollar offer to join his league.

“To be honest, I found out about the Big3 thing at the exact time you all did, and my main focus is on just playing basketball,” she said. “I honestly don’t talk about those things with really anybody. I have other people that deal with it, and they haven’t said a word to me about it.”

Despite Clark’s initial rejection, Ice Cube tells ADWEEK that his offer is still on the table.

Journalist, sports commentator, and author Jemele Hill also weighed in on the conversation and pointed out that WNBA players have been pushing for higher wages for years. She also noted that the WNBA season is considerably shorter than the NBA season, and the athletes are compensated in other ways, such as rent-free housing and transportation.

“I’m already annoyed by this conversation because for years, WNBA players have fought for more money,” Hill wrote on X.

“And when they were outspoken, so many of y’all told them to shut up or reminded them how they had no value The NBA has had 50+ years of investment, media coverage, etc. After 27 years, the WNBA will not be the current NBA. So stop comparing them. Further context: This salary is for four months of basketball (40 games). Players also receive a free apartment + car. That doesn’t make the salaries acceptable, but now you know why so many women’s players play overseas to boost/supplement their income.”

The WNBA plays a 40-game regular season, while the NBA players compete in an 82-game season.

The WNBA and the players’ union negotiated a collective bargaining agreement in 2020, which resulted in higher salaries for players. The deal also expanded maternity benefits. Under the deal, players’ salaries became guaranteed during their time on maternity leave. Teams were also required to provide two-bedroom apartments available for athletes with children who are 13 or younger. The agreement also stipulated that after delivery, mothers would have “comfortable, safe, private” places to nurse” and have access to a $5,000 annual stipend to help cover childcare costs.

The WNBA has struggled to attract a high level of attention and viewership throughout almost the league’s entire existence. Clark, Reese, and others will essentially be tasked with carrying over the attention they brought to college women’s basketball over to the professional ranks.

The uptick in ticket sales is one positive sign for the WNBA.

“We’ve seen a lot of enthusiasm online and on social media,” Pacers Sports and Entertainment said in a statement to The Associated Press. “The organization has also seen the enthusiasm lead to a spike in ticket inquiries.”

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