As the madness of the men's basketball season ends, the Women's National Basketball Association prepares for a winning season - but with a little less fanfare. The WNBA, which is 13 years young, has steadily gained popularity over the years, but if you think the women are making close to as much as the men, think again. The disparity is alarming, but things are changing.

In Pictures: Top 5 Most Hair-Raising Contracts

Rookies get paid a minimum $35,190. Shocked? Well consider this, the maximum WNBA salary for veteran players in 2010 is $101,000. Quite shy of the massive paydays and endorsement deals of their male counterparts. In fact, the average NBA player makes over $5 million.

Here's a look at some of the top paydays of the most recognizable WNBA players.

  • Marion Jones
    As an accomplished athlete, Marion Jones is sure to draw interest in the WNBA. The Olympic sprinter has joined the Tulsa Shock in Oklahoma as its newest point guard. Jones, once considered the fastest woman, in the world had admitted to using steroids for the 2000 Olympics. She had to return all five Olympic medals and spent six months behind bars for the incident and involvement in a check-fraud scam. Jones has signed a one-year contract with the Tulsa team receiving the league's minimum of $35,000. (Increased popularity leads to increased salaries, but will the WNBA become a fan favorite? Learn more in The "Next Big Thing" In Pro Sports.)
  • Lisa Leslie
    WNBA veteran Lisa Leslie had been considered the most marketable and most dominant player in the league. She retired at the end of the 2009 WNBA season to be a mom and pursue other interests. The trailblazer for female basketball players has been in the league since its opening season and was the leader of points and rebounds for the L.A. Sparks in California. According to the AP in 2006, Leslie was making the maximum salary in the WNBA at $91,000.The four-time Olympic gold medalist took advantage of her notoriety and dabbled in other careers. She signed a contract with Wilhelmina modeling agency, has worked as an actress and has been in pursuit of a broadcast career. (Learn more about the financial implications of the Olympics. Read Olympic Economics: Boom Or Doom?)
  • Candace Parker
    Candace Parker was the number one overall pick in 2008 which landed her playing alongside Lisa Leslie for the L.A. Sparks. She stands to earn more than any female player in the WNBA history and make as much if not more than any male basketball player. Her current endorsements with Adidas and Gatorade are estimated to be worth approximately $3 million. Although such contracts are the norm for NBA superstars, they are less frequent in the womens' league.
  • Sheryl Swoopes
    Often called the "female Michael Jordan," veteran WNBA player Sheryl Swoops made slightly less than the $99,500 salary cap right before she left the Seattle Storm in Washington. However, rosters were cut last year to free up money in order for the teams to stay within their salary caps and create parity among the players. This Olympic gold medalist was awarded an endorsement deal with Nike, who created the "Air Swoopes" shoe.
    According to the Seattle Times, the Seattle Storm's coach needed to stay within a cap of $803,000 resulting in the valuable athlete being released from her contract.

The Future of the WNBA
The Great Recession has challenged the WNBA by disrupting audience attendance, revenue and owners' financial interest. The WNBA is attempting to maintain its viability by discovering new sources of income, such as its eight-year TV arrangement with ABC/ESPN.

Meanwhile, WNBA players continue to head overseas to collect larger paychecks in places such as Poland, Israel and Turkey during their off-season.

Still feeling uninformed? Check out last week's business news highlights in Water Cooler Finance: Zombies File Taxes, Dead Bills Rise Again.

Related Articles
  1. Personal Finance

    10 Reasons It Is Time to Look for a New Job

    Learn 10 good reasons for switching jobs, such as major life changes, ethical concerns, job description creep and upwards mobility.
  2. Economics

    Management Strategies From A Top CEO

    Jack Welch is a legend in the business world: during the two decades he was CEO of General Electric, the company’s value rose by 4000%.
  3. Investing

    From Supermodel to Entrepreneur: Gisele Bündchen's Sejaa Pure Skincare

    As one of the highest-paid models in history, Bündchen has turned her name and image into a worldwide brand, and Sejaa is part of her massive empire.
  4. Taxes

    Payroll Taxes: Picking Apart Your Paycheck

    Here's what gets deducted from your pay, what your employer pays and where your payroll taxes actually end up.
  5. Professionals

    5 Things to Request If You Can't Get a Raise

    The job market is improving, but many companies are still running on tight budgets which means no raises. But there are other forms of compensation.
  6. Personal Finance

    5 U.S. Cities With High Paychecks and a Low Cost of Living

    Consider these U.S. hubs where workers get paid competitive salaries while enjoying a high quality of life due to a low cost of living.
  7. Investing News

    Learn from These Big CEO Blunders

    A ceo can seem to have it all: power, influence and gravitas. But it can all erode — along with a company’s share price — in the wake of a scandal.
  8. Investing

    Oprah Takes a Big Bet With Weight Watchers

    Does "The Oprah Effect" still work, and can Winfrey reinvigorate a brand that's been struggling for years?
  9. Economics

    6 Signs That You’ve Made It To Middle Class

    A government task force pinpointed the six financial aspirations that characterize life in the middle class.
  10. Personal Finance

    5 Reasons to Use a Financial Advisor

    Nobody wants to pay for advice, but the help of a pro can be invaluable.
  1. Does working capital include salaries?

    A company accrues unpaid salaries on its balance sheet as part of accounts payable, which is a current liability account, ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Do financial advisors need to meet quotas?

    Most financial advisors are required to meet quotas, particularly if they work for firms that pay base salaries or draws ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What is the difference between AGI (adjusted gross income) and gross income?

    In the United States, individuals pay taxes based on their adjusted gross income, or AGI, rather than their gross income. ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Does my employer's matching contribution count towards the maximum I can contribute ...

    Contributions to 401(k) plans come from employee salary deferral and employer match dollars. According to the IRS, employees ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. How is marginal propensity to save calculated?

    Marginal propensity to save is used in Keynesian macroeconomics to quantify the relationship between changes in income and ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. How can minimum wages contribute to a market failure?

    The minimum wage acts like a price floor on labor, reducing the supply of jobs available to a level below the market-clearing ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Black Friday

    1. A day of stock market catastrophe. Originally, September 24, 1869, was deemed Black Friday. The crash was sparked by gold ...
  2. Turkey

    Slang for an investment that yields disappointing results or turns out worse than expected. Failed business deals, securities ...
  3. Barefoot Pilgrim

    A slang term for an unsophisticated investor who loses all of his or her wealth by trading equities in the stock market. ...
  4. Quick Ratio

    The quick ratio is an indicator of a company’s short-term liquidity. The quick ratio measures a company’s ability to meet ...
  5. Black Tuesday

    October 29, 1929, when the DJIA fell 12% - one of the largest one-day drops in stock market history. More than 16 million ...
  6. Black Monday

    October 19, 1987, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) lost almost 22% in a single day. That event marked the beginning ...
Trading Center