Caitlin Clark career earnings: Comparing Iowa star’s potential salary from NIL deals vs. WNBA contract

Caitlin Clark has captured everyone’s attention across the basketball world.

Her lethal 3-point range, elite playmaking and rebounding make her a 30-point triple-double threat every night. She’s must-watch basketball.

And Clark has been able to take advantage of this popularity with the new NIL rules that the NCAA established in 2021.

The Iowa Hawkeyes superstar has made a lucrative career despite not being paid by Iowa for playing collegiate basketball. Clark has garnered numerous endorsement deals over the past three seasons, with the most recent being her partnerships with Gatorade and State Farm.

Her fame won’t drop off anytime soon either, as she inches closer to breaking the overall all-time points record held by Pete Maravich. Maravich scored 3,667 points in three years at LSU and has held the record since 1970.

Fans around the world are preparing to witness Clark break the 54-year record.

How much does Caitlin Clark make through NIL deals?

Clark’s endorsements have racked up quite a bit of money over the past few years. She’s partnered with 11 companies including Gatorade, Nike and State Farm.

The Iowa senior has an estimated NIL valuation of $910,000, according to ON3. She ranks 30th among all NIL-eligible athletes and third in women’s college basketball behind LSU’s Angel Reese and Flau’jae Johnson.

The expectation is that her NIL valuation will continue to rise if she breaks Maravich’s all-time scoring record. She already surpassed Kelsey Plum as the all-time women’s scoring record holder during a Feb. 15  game against Michigan.

How much will Clark make in the WNBA?

Clark is a senior at Iowa and will have to decide whether to return for a fifth year or to enter the 2024 WNBA Draft. She has a fifth year of eligibility due to the 2020-21 season, which was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

If she opts to take her talents to the WNBA, her NIL money won’t disappear. Her current partnerships will just become endorsements. It’s possible that both the amount of money and number of partnerships will continue to rise as more companies try to cash in on her stardom at the professional level.

What the WNBA offers that Iowa cannot is a salary. Clark is expected to be selected at the top of the WNBA Draft in April, which means she should be able to max out her rookie salary in the league. 

The top four draft picks in the 2024 WNBA Draft are eligible to sign up to a four-year, $338,056 contract. Those deals include fourth-year team options, so that figure could wind up being lower if a team decides to cut bait on a highly-drafted player after just three seasons, according to Spotrac.

Clark would enter the 2024 WNBA Draft as the top-ranked prospect, per ESPN’s latest mock draft. So she would make $76,535 in her first season if selected No. 1 by the Indiana Fever.

If Clark opts to remain at Iowa for another year, she’ll miss out on that WNBA salary in 2024. When she enters the 2025 WNBA Draft, however, she would see a slight increase in her professional contract. WNBA rookie deals increase by 2% each season, meaning Clark could earn a four-year, $348,198 contract with a team option on the fourth year if selected with a top four pick in 2025, according to Spotrac.

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