Brittney Griner Aug 8, 2021; Saitama, Japan; United States centre Brittney Griner (15) reacts against Japan in the women’s basketball gold medal match during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Saitama Super Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

Last year, WNBA superstar Brittney Griner was arrested and given a hefty prison sentence after a sham of a trial when Russian authorities found vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage. The whole situation left many wondering why Griner would have traveled to Russia in the first place, given their political climate. But as it turns out, there’s a pretty good reason: money.

Following the WNBA Draft on Monday night, Sportico shared the pay structure of all the players’ rookie contracts. And it was not a lot of money for a professional athlete.

“Salaries for the rookie #WNBADraft contracts:
1st (Aliyah Boston) $74,305
2nd (Diamond Miller) $74,305
3rd (Maddy Siegrist) $74,305
4th (Stephanie Soares) $74,305

The remainder of first-round picks: $71,300 – $68,295
second-rounders: $65,290
third-rounders and undrafted: $62,28,” Sportico shared in a Tweet.

This prompted sportswriter Chuck Modi to explain that this is why Brittney Griner went to Russia in the first place – because the WNBA stars can earn much more money playing overseas than they can in the United States.

“If anyone is curious why Brittney Griner, Diana Taurasi and so many WNBA stars played in Russia for a million $ payday in the off-season, here’s why #WNBADraft,” Modi said in a tweet.

Griner was understandably seeking a big salary boost during the WNBA offseason – as many players do – but ultimately became a victim of a harsh political climate on her way home.

[Chuck Modi]