Las Vegas tourism arm announces $100,000 sponsorship for every Aces player

The WNBA is reportedly investigating the sponsorship

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - SEPTEMBER 10: Kelsey Plum #10, Chelsea Gray #12, Jackie Young #0 and A'ja Wilson #22 of the Las Vegas Aces walk toward their bench during a timeout after Gray hit a 3-pointer against the Phoenix Mercury in the fourth quarter of their game at T-Mobile Arena on September 10, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Aces defeated the Mercury 100-85. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Las Vegas is putting its money on the Aces. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The Las Vegas Aces just got one of the best deals the WNBA has ever seen.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, the city's tourism arm, revealed Friday that it will sponsor each of the 12 players on the Aces' roster to the tune of $100,000, with no conditions beyond continuing to play basketball.

LVCVA president and CEO Steve Hill surprised the team in the locker room. The Aces players were, in a word, happy:

The way Hill explained it:

"Today we want to do something that is new, something I don't think anybody has ever done before. We want to recognize you individually, we want to put some money in your pockets. We've got an offer for you. We think it's a great offer for us. We hope you think it's a great offer for you. We'd like to offer each of you, individually, a sponsorship for this year in the amount of $100,000.

"The offer's really simple. We want you to just play. We want you to keep repping Las Vegas, and if you do a three-peat, that will be icing on the cake. That's it."

That's not a small amount of money to any player on the two-time defending champions, especially the ones on the fringe of the roster.

For example, Kate Martin wasn't a lock to get selected in the 2024 WNBA Draft out of Iowa, but got taken in the second round and made the team. She's set to make $67,249 this season, per Spotrac, just a few thousand above league minimum, and will now receive more than that with just one sponsorship deal.

Only four second-rounders made rosters this season, meaning Martin basically played her way from making $0 to $167,249.

The team showed its gratitude on social media:

Meanwhile, A'ja Wilson's former coach saw an opportunity to hit her up for a donation:

The league, however, may not be happy with the deal. The WNBA opened an investigation into the bonus payments on Saturday, according to The Next Hoops' Howard Megdal. Specifics about that investigation are not yet known.

As explained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal's Callie Lawson-Freeman, the LVCVA worked with each of the players' agents in secret and structured the deals similarly to the Name, Image and Likeness deals in college. The players are being sponsored for being players. A grand total of $1.2 million is a hefty amount of money for players who were already on the team, but Hill noted to the Review-Journal that his agency has a roster of 100-plus influencers it pays on a regular basis.

It has definitely been a good week for the Aces, who visited the White House on May 9 to celebrate their second straight WNBA championship and defeated the Phoenix Mercury 89-80 to open their season on Tuesday.