Clay Travis Spurs Controversy with $1 Million Challenge for Las Vegas Aces

The OutKick founder, Clay Travis, has made a bold move by challenging the WNBA Champions to take on a boys’ high school basketball team for a million-dollar prize.

Travis has secured a $1 million commitment from an offshore sportsbook for the winner of a game between the WNBA Las Vegas Aces and the high school boys’ team of his choice. As of now, the 2023 WNBA Champions have remained silent about this challenge.

“But can they beat the men,” is such a tired trope in women’s professional sports. Granted, Travis is dressing it up with a $1 million kicker. But it’s not like WNBA players have never played against men. In fact, the WNBA has used all-men practice squads for years.

Not the first time

This challenge brings back memories of the 1973 “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match between Billy Jean King and Bobby Riggs. At 55 years old and retired, Riggs, the former No. 1 male player, had achieved top rankings in both 1946 and 1947.

A bit of a showman and gambler, Riggs challenged King to a $100,000 winner-take-all match. At the time, King was 29 years old and ranked the No. 2 woman player in the world. Over 90 million people watched the televised match, where King beat Riggs in straight sets.

The situations are, however, arguably different. For one thing, King had just founded the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), splitting from the National Tennis League. In 1973, the WTA had nine members — looking to gain recognition and improve pay for women tennis pros. Meanwhile, the WNBA has been an established league for 27 years and is already gaining traction on its own.

Organic growth 

The WNBA television viewership for the 2023 season was up over 21 percent from last year. And for the last game of the regular season, the Las Vegas Aces played at the T-Mobile arena because their regular 12,000-seat venue couldn’t hold the 17,406 fans who came to watch.

In other words, it’s not clear that the WNBA has as much to gain as the WTA did back in the day. Granted, WNBA players would like to earn higher salaries, but winning $1 million on a one-off bet is hardly a recipe for a sustainable pay hike.

Meanwhile, the WNBA has several partnerships with regulated gambling companies. In fact, the Las Vegas Aces were once owned by MGM Resorts International. The league is unlikely to jeopardize those relationships by helping promote an unregulated offshore sportsbook.

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