Playing at LSU is more lucrative than the WNBA


NCAA basketball champion Angel Reese isn’t accelerating her college career, even though she had the opportunity to turn pro.

The Louisiana State University sophomore, who won’t be eligible for the WNBA draft until next year, says she’s enjoying her time in the NCAA. “I’m in no rush to get into the league,” 20-year-old Reese told the “I am an athlete” podcast. “The money I make is more than some of the people who are in the league who could be the best players.”

Reese’s performances on the court have earned him 17 name, likeness and likeness (NIL) sponsorship deals with brands like Amazon and Coach, according to a March report. Sponsor United report. That’s more than any other college basketball player, the report said.

These offers earn him a estimated at $1.3 million per year, according to sports media platform On3. (Reese didn’t immediately respond to CNBC’s Make It request for confirmation.) Reese also knows exactly what she wants to spend her newly acquired fortune on: a Mercedes-Benz, she said on the podcast.

WNBA players earn less in salary — last year’s league average was $102,751 – but can significantly increase their earnings with NIL-style sponsorship deals. Candace Parker of the Las Vegas Aces, for example, earned $5.5 million in 2021 from brand partnerships with Adidas, Band-Aid, Capital One and CarMax, Forbes estimated last year.

It’s still pennies, compared to the NBA: Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry, the league’s highest-paid athlete, will win $48 million in salary this year alone.

Curry also recently signed a new long-term partnership with Under Armour. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed, but it included $75 million in Under Armor stock, according to a public company filing. Curry’s previous Under Armor contract was worth $215 millionand also included the company’s equity.

But while men still earn more than women on the professional court, female basketball players are beginning to close the pay gap at the college level. Women’s basketball was the third most lucrative NIL-paid sport behind men’s soccer and basketball, as of September 2022, according to technology company NIL and marketplace Opendorse.

Of the top 10, six are female-dominated sports, CNBC noted in October.

For Reese, who has dubbed herself the “Bayou Barbie,” the best part is that she no longer has to accept every NIL offer that comes her way. Now, she says she avoids endorsing products or services she wouldn’t personally use.

“My first year [in college], I was just taking money,” Reese said. “I was just messing around. Now I have to say no to some things that I don’t like or don’t want to put on my Instagram… Not all money is good.”

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