Brittney Griner says she went to Russia to make $1 million a year—and spent 10 months in detention: ‘The whole reason a lot of us go over is the pay gap’
Re-entering the basketball court, Brittney Griner is back and pushing for change. In her first press conference since she was released from being detained in Russia for nearly 10 months, Griner made it clear that she won’t leave the country for work again—but pointed out that not everyone has the resources to make that call.
“I’m never going overseas to play again unless I’m representing my country at the Olympics,” she said. “If I make the team, that would be the only time I would leave U.S. soil.”
Charged for carrying vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage, Griner was sentenced to nine years in prison before being released through a prisoner swap. The arrest was largely seen as a political maneuver by Russia as tension escalated between the country and the U.S. after the invasion of Ukraine.
The only reason Griner went over there in the first place was to play the WNBA offseason so she could earn more money, she said in the press conference. “The whole reason a lot of us go over is the pay gap,” she said. “A lot of us go over there to make an income to support our families, to support ourselves.”
It’s why she wouldn’t “knock any player that wants to go overseas and make a little bit extra money,” she added, regardless of her own choice not to do so again after what she went through.
From sports to entertainment and all the industries in between, pay equity issues have long been a problem for both women at the top and the everyday working woman. America’s woeful lag in achieving pay equity has pushed women to extend themselves in different ways, from leaving their jobs for better paying gigs or going abroad for better options like Griner.
Just last year, millions of working women in the U.S. earned on average only 82% of what men made. The pandemic pushed back progress towards pay parity, which was already stalling. The situation is even more dire for women of color; Black women make 39% less than their male peers, Native American women earn 49% less, and Latina women 54% less.
It’s no different ballgame when it comes to sports, where the discrepancy appears more stark with larger salaries. The average NBA player made a whopping 44 times more than their WNBA counterparts, who play shorter seasons, according to NPR: $5.4 million, compared to $120,600, respectively. It’s no wonder Griner went over to Russia, where she made over $1 million per season while playing there—more than quadruple her salary in the WNBA, according to AP.
While the United States Soccer Federation pledged to pay equal amounts to the women’s and men’s teams, basketball is still clearly leagues behind on equal pay. Especially given that interest in the WNBA has skyrocketed—viewership increased in 2021 by 49% in one year—credit for women stars is long overdue.
Grounded in the country now, it’s Griner’s mission to fight to make the situation for other women in sports better, and she’s pushing for greater media exposure for the WNBA. “I’m hoping that our league continues to grow,” she said. “I hope a lot of these companies start to invest in our craft.”
This article was originally published by Unknown Author. Click here to read the original article.