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Brandi Chastain received $500 pay check for inaugural World Cup

Brandi Chastain and Aly Wagner take the ceremonial first kick before a game between Real Salt Lake and San Jose Earthquakes. (Photo by Lyndsay Radnedge/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

Twenty-four years later, Brandi Chastain remains one of the faces of the Women’s World Cup.

In 1999, after scoring the deciding penalty kick to lift the United States Women’s National Team to victory in the World Cup final, Chastain ripped off her jersey in celebration, creating one of the most iconic images in the history of the tournament.

But Chastain was hardly compensated at an amount commensurate with her ability at the time. For her first World Cup championship, in 1991, Chastain was paid $500.

“None of us started playing soccer because we thought we were going to get paid,” Chastain said on the 91st with Midge Purce and Katie Nolan. “We started playing soccer, and we stuck with soccer, because it made us feel good. We found our friends, we found a place where we could express ourselves, where we could get dirty and compete like crazy.

“Getting on the national team was just an amazing byproduct of all the fun that I had when I was a kid and all the sacrifices my parents made, with their time and the little resources my family had, to be part of the great game.”

In May 2022, a group of current and former members of the USWNT settled a lawsuit with U.S. Soccer over equal pay. U.S. Soccer agreed to pay the group $24 million in what amounted to backpay, as well as a pledge to equalize pay between the men’s and women’s teams in all competitions in the teams’ next collective bargaining agreement.

“Getting my first World Cup championship check for $500, it looks pretty good where we are,” Chastain said.