What happened: Members of the U.S. women's soccer team embarrassed themselves and their country by losing to Sweden and being eliminated from the FIFA Women's World Cup.
• It was the worst World Cup performance in history for the U.S. women's soccer team, but it was also the most lucrative thanks to a controversial "equal pay" arrangement with the U.S. men's team.
By the numbers: The U.S. women's soccer team, despite claiming to be more successful than its male counterpart, achieved precisely the same (disappointing) result as the men's team did in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
• Both teams finished with one win and two draws in the group stage before losing in the first round of the knockout stage. Unlike the men's team, however, the U.S. women were heavily favored to win it all.
• Men's sports are more profitable because they are more entertaining to watch. Accordingly, the prize pool for the men's World Cup was $440 million, four times larger than the women's World Cup prize pool of $110 million.
• The U.S. men's team earned $11.7 million for their World Cup performance, while the women's team earned $2.9 million. According to terms of an "equal pay" agreement negotiated last year, the teams will split their combined earnings of $14.6 million, which amounts to a payout of $7.3 million each.
Crucial context: The payout is considerably larger than the $2.7 million the U.S. women took home after then-president Donald Trump's patriotic leadership propelled them to victory at the World Cup in 2019.
What they're saying: "Probably equal pay," said Megan Rapinoe, who missed a crucial penalty kick in the U.S. loss to Sweden. She was asked to reflect on her favorite memory of representing the United States on the world stage.
Why it matters: It's proof that affirmative action policies designed to achieve "equality" often create perverse incentives that lead to worse outcomes.
Silver lining: If you want to feel better about the situation, just think of all the corporate advertisers who are going to lose a lot of money now that basically no one in America is going to watch the World Cup since the United States has been eliminated.
Go deeper: Watch the video below.