20 Highest Paid WNBA Players in History
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20 Highest Paid WNBA Players in History

Highest Paid WNBA Players in History: The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) is the premier women’s professional basketball league in the United States. 

Since its inception in 1996, the WNBA has allowed elite female basketball players to pursue professional sports careers. 

While salaries in the WNBA have historically lagged behind the men’s NBA, compensation has steadily improved over the years. 

Today, top WNBA stars can earn six-figure salaries through their contracts and endorsement deals.

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20 Highest Paid WNBA Players in History

Here is a look at the 20 highest paid players in WNBA history based on total career earnings:

1. Diana Taurasi – $1.5 million+

The legendary Diana Taurasi tops the list of the highest paid WNBA players of all time. 

Nicknamed “White Mamba,” she has played her entire WNBA career from 2004 till present with the Phoenix Mercury. 

She is a ten-time WNBA All-Star and three-time WNBA champion. Taurasi has earned over $1.5 million in her stellar career from her WNBA salary and endorsement deals with companies like Nike. 

She signed a multi-year contract in 2015 worth $113,000 per season. Her longevity and high level of play have made her the WNBA’s highest earner.

2. Sue Bird – $1.4 million+

A dynamo point guard with precision passing, Sue Bird has spent her entire WNBA career from 2002 till present with the Seattle Storm. She is a 12 time WNBA All Star and four time WNBA champion.

 Bird has pocketed over $1.4 million in her illustrious career from her playing contracts and lucrative deals with Nike, State Farm Insurance, and more. She signed a $215,000 contract with the Storm in 2016.

3. Candace Parker – $1.3 million+

The first overall pick of the 2008 WNBA draft, Candace Parker is regarded as one of the most versatile players in the league. 

Spending most of her career with the LA Sparks, Parker has also played for the Chicago Sky. She is a two-time WNBA MVP and champion. 

Endorsement deals with companies like Adidas, Nationwide Insurance, and Beats by Dre headphones have supplemented her career earnings to over $1.3 million. 

Her current contract with the Sky pays around $190,000 per season.

4. Tamika Catchings – $1.2 million+

An elite forward known for tenacious defense, Tamika Catchings spent her entire 15-year WNBA career from 2002 to 2016 with the Indiana Fever. 

She is a 10-time WNBA All-Star, won the 2011 WNBA MVP award, and won a WNBA championship in 2012. 

Catchings earned over $1.2 million from her playing salary and endorsement deals with brands like Peak, Kroger, and BP Gasoline. 

She never made more than $105,500 in a single WNBA season.

5. Seimone Augustus – $1.1 million+

A scorer gifted with smooth moves, Seimone Augustus, is one of the highest paid WNBA players.

She was selected No. 1 overall in the 2006 WNBA Draft by the Minnesota Lynx. 

She spent 14 seasons in the WNBA and won four championships with the Lynx. Augustus is an eight-time WNBA All-Star. 

She has earned over $1.1 million over her career from salary and endorsements with companies like Nike, Peak, and Red Bull. Augustus made $115,000 with the Lynx in 2016.

6. Sheryl Swoopes – $1 million+

A true WNBA pioneer, Sheryl Swoopes was one of the first big stars of the league in the late 1990s and early 2000s. 

She won three WNBA championships and three MVP awards with the Houston Comets. 

Swoopes was one of the first Nike endorsers for the WNBA and made additional money with deals from brands like Gatorade and McDonald’s throughout her career.

 She earned over $1 million as a player before retiring in 2011.

7. Tina Thompson – $960,000+

The WNBA’s first draft pick in 1997, Tina Thompson, played 17 seasons in the league for the Houston Comets and Los Angeles Sparks. She won four WNBA titles with Houston in the league’s early years. 

Thompson scored over 7,000 career points and made over $960,000 in salary during her long career, plus additional money from an endorsement deal with U.S. Postal Service.

8. Maya Moore – $950,000+

One of the most decorated stars of recent years, forward Maya Moore was the No. 1 draft pick in 2011 and led the Minnesota Lynx to four championships. 

She is a six-time WNBA All-Star and won league MVP in 2014. Moore stepped away from basketball in 2019 in her prime to focus on criminal justice reform efforts. 

But she earned around $950,000 from her playing contracts and endorsement deals with Nike, Nationwide, and Visa during her eight-year career.

9. Lisa Leslie – $900,000+

Lisa Leslie, a dominant center and the game’s first mainstream dunker, played her entire WNBA career from 1997 to 2009 with the Los Angeles Sparks. 

She led the Sparks to consecutive titles in 2001 and 2002. Leslie won three regular season MVP and two Finals MVP awards. She earned over $900,000 in salary during her WNBA career. 

Leslie also earned additional money through endorsements with companies like Energizer Batteries, Tom’s of Maine, and Cadillac.

10. Rebecca Lobo – $850,000+

A women’s basketball icon, Rebecca Lobo was a member of the inaugural WNBA draft class in 1997. 

She played seven seasons in the league with the New York Liberty and Houston Comets. Lobo won Olympic gold with the 1996 U.S. Women’s Basketball team. 

Appearances on ESPN as a college and WNBA analyst after retirement have significantly supplemented her career earnings. 

But Lobo still earned around $650,000 as a player, plus nearly $200,000 from endorsements with companies like Nike, Coke, and Target.

11. Elena Delle Donne – $800,000+

Elena Delle Donne has emerged as one of the WNBA’s best and most marketable players in recent years. 

The versatile 6’5″ forward was drafted No. 2 overall by the Chicago Sky in 2013. 

She won the WNBA MVP award in 2015 and led the Washington Mystics to their first title in 2019. 

Delle Donne became the first WNBA player to join Nike’s signature athlete roster in 2018. 

She has earned around $800,000 in her playing salary, plus lucrative deals with Nike, DuPont, and Octagon insurance.

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12. Cynthia Cooper – $700,000+

One of the WNBA’s first superstars, Cynthia Cooper, won the first regular season and finals MVP awards in league history while leading the Houston Comets to four straight titles between 1997-2000. 

She earned over $500,000 in salary during her WNBA career. Additional earnings from endorsements with companies like Nike, Sprite, and American Airlines bring her estimated career earnings to over $700,000.

13. Brittney Griner – $600,000

Currently detained overseas on controversial drug charges, Brittney Griner is one of the WNBA’s most recognizable active players. 

The 6’9″ center was selected No. 1 overall in the 2013 draft by the Phoenix Mercury. 

She is a two-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year and won a title with the Mercury in 2014. Griner’s current Mercury salary is $221,450. 

With an endorsement portfolio featuring Nike, BBVA, and more, she has earned over $600,000 in her career.

14. Skylar Diggins-Smith – $600,000+

Skylar Diggins-Smith, a flashy point guard with extensive skill, was drafted 3rd overall by the Tulsa Shock in 2013. 

She earned WNBA All Star honors four straight years between 2014-17. Diggins-Smith has played for the Dallas Wings and Phoenix Mercury. 

Her current salary is around $170,000. She has earned additional income through endorsement deals with companies like Nike and Sprint early in her career.

15. Diana Taurasi – $600,000+

Deemed the “White Mamba,” Diana Taurasi is arguably the greatest player in WNBA history. 

She’s a ten-time WNBA All-Star, three-time WNBA champion, and two-time WNBA Finals MVP. 

Taurasi was drafted 1st overall by the Phoenix Mercury in 2004, where she has played her entire career. 

Her 2021 salary was $221,450. And with lucrative sponsorship deals with Nike and Red Bull, her career earnings are estimated at over $600,000.

16. Angel McCoughtry – $500,000+

A versatile and aggressive small forward, Angel McCoughtry was selected 1st overall by the Atlanta Dream in 2009. She led the league in scoring in 2012 and steals in 2013. 

McCoughtry has been a five-time WNBA All-Star. She has played for the Aces and Lynx after leaving Atlanta. 

McCoughtry’s best salary was around $117,000 with the Dream. She earned over $500,000 from her career earnings and a shoe endorsement deal with Puma.

17. Chamique Holdsclaw – $500,000+

The top pick in the 1999 WNBA draft, forward Chamique Holdsclaw was one of the young stars of the league’s early years. 

She was a six-time All-Star and won three Olympic gold medals with Team USA. But Holdsclaw retired abruptly in 2010 at just 29. 

Off-court mental health issues cut short her career, but Holdsclaw still earned over $500,000 in salary and endorsements from companies like Nike during her 11 seasons in the WNBA.

18. Becky Hammon – $450,000+

Becky Hammon was a gritty point guard with quick ballhandling skills and went undrafted out of Colorado State before signing with the New York Liberty in 1999. 

She played 16 seasons in the WNBA with the Liberty and San Antonio Stars. Hammon made six All-Star teams and won a bronze medal with Team Russia in 2008. 

Although she never earned more than $105,000 in a season, total career earnings are estimated at over $450,000.

19. Ticha Penicheiro – $400,000+

A creative passer and pesky defender, point guard Ticha Penicheiro enjoyed a 15-year WNBA career from 1998 to 2012. 

She was a four-time All-Star and won the 2005 championship with the Sacramento Monarchs. 

The native of Portugal led the league in assists seven times despite modest scoring numbers. 

Penicheiro made around $390,000 in total salary during her WNBA career plus additional money from overseas play.

20. Penny Taylor – $400,000+

Australian hoops star Penny Taylor was a key member of three Phoenix Mercury championship teams in 2007, 2009, and 2014. 

The versatile swingman was a three-time WNBA All-Star over her 13-year career. Taylor only exceeded a $100,000 salary in one WNBA season. 

But with championship earnings and overseas salary from playing in Turkey, Israel, and Australia, she retires with career earnings of around $400,000.


The continued growth and success of the WNBA will hopefully encourage rising salaries and more endorsement opportunities for the league’s top players. 

But these 20 women have made history as the highest paid WNBA players in the world’s premier women’s basketball league. 

Their hard work and excellence legacy paved the way for the next generation of WNBA stars.