'My jaw dropped' - USWNT players thankful as nutrition bar company helps level wage gap

Mallory Pugh USWNTAaron Doster

The U.S. women’s national team’s latest victory in its fight for equal pay came not on the field or in a courtroom, but from a nutrition bar.

On Tuesday the maker of LUNA bars pledged to pay $31,250 to each of the 23 USWNT players who make the roster for this summer’s World Cup.

That figure will make up the difference between World Cup roster bonuses U.S. Soccer pays out to its men’s team and the amount it pays the women’s team.

Article continues below

“In 2019, each USWNT player was set to receive $31,250 LESS than their counterparts on the men’s team—until now,” a press release read.

In total, Clif Bar & Company will pay the USWNT players $718,750.

The payout was revealed to U.S. players earlier this year but the news was made public on Tuesday, which is Equal Pay Day in the United States.

“When we first heard, my jaw dropped,” U.S. forward Mallory Pugh said on Tuesday.

“To have a company come in and do that for us is really amazing and it addresses all the different stuff that’s been going on, so to have a company supporting us in that way is really cool.”

The news came amidst the backdrop of the USWNT’s ongoing fight for equal pay. Last month, 28 members of the team filed a lawsuit alleging gender discrimination by U.S. Soccer.

According to the suit: “From March 19, 2013 through December 31, 2016, WNT players earned only $15,000 total for being asked to try out for the World Cup team and for making the team roster.

“MNT players, on the other hand, earned $55,000 each for making their team’s roster in 2014 and could have earned $68,750 each for making their team’s roster in 2018.”

The U.S. men, of course, failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

“It’s ironic that one of the most popular sports in the world is still experiencing pay inequalities between women and men,” Clif Bar & Company owner and co-CEO Kit Crawford said.

“We are big fans of the U.S. women’s national team and were inspired to take action and make a difference that matters … It’s what is right, but more importantly, it’s what they deserve.”

While the USWNT may be slightly perturbed that an equal bonus had to be the product of a gift from a nutrition bar company (who will reap PR benefits despite calling the money a “donation"), rather than its own federation, its players were nonetheless full of gratitude.

“It’s so cool what they’re doing for us and this team and just the statement they’re making for women and equality is absolutely amazing,” U.S. midfielder Lindsey Horan said.

“We’re so thankful for them just making that statement. I’m at a loss for words.”