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LeBron is the NBA’s First Billionaire player. What Happened?

LeBron James is the first NBA player to become a billionaire during his career. What caused it to happen?


LeBron earned $342.5 million in his career, he is guaranteed another $44.5 million next year. At the moment, James has already received $ 342.5 million for his career. His deal with the Lakers ($153.3 million over 4 years) expires next year – he is owed another $44.5 million and will be the fourth or fifth highest paid person in the league (in the strange company of Stephen Curry, John Wall, Russell Westbrook and possibly James Harden).

"LeBron is the NBA's first billionaire player"
LeBron is the NBA’s first billionaire player

James has already come out on top in NBA career earnings, ahead of Garnett (334.4 million), Kobe (323.3 million), Chris Paul (300 million), and Shaq (286.3 million). And while he is clearly not going to stop: the Lakers can already offer him to last another two seasons – and this will bring James another 97 million. At the moment, his relationship with the California club is developing in a contradictory way, so, most likely, next summer he will enter the free agency market, but in any case, hardly anyone doubts that he will still take his 100+ million from basketball.

James never made contract sums his top priority:

The most unusual nuance here is that James never made contract sums his top priority. He donated a small amount when he moved to the Heat so that Miami could sign three superstars and still find worthy role players to help them. He always signed one-year agreements in Cleveland so that the local leadership would not relax too much. And he walked away from a potential five-year, $205 million contract with the Caves to pursue a career in Los Angeles.

It’s not that LeBron was anything but ascetic, but it’s just interesting that all of his formal competitors invariably got into trouble due to bloated contracts: Kobe stalled the Lakers’ rebuild with Operation 48 for two years, Garnett didn’t get help in Minnesota, Chris Paul was declared the “worst NBA contract” by the Rockets,


At the same time, LeBron is one of those who advocate the abolition of the maximum contracts for superstars in the NBA. In his case, this is most illustrative. Not only does James add value to his partners and clubs, but he also impacts the economies of the cities he plays in: according to a study, he brought in almost $400 million to the economy of Los Angeles alone, all without impacting TV ratings, ticket prices, or merchandise sales. . So, after his return to Cleveland from Miami, the cost of the franchise doubled, and the city received almost 300 million in addition due to the popularity of the club.

Largely thanks to LeBron, the NBA economy also took off: James took the well-deserved first line, but not the fact that for a long time, the new generation with 50 million a year is advancing no worse than the army of the King of the Night.


LeBron makes $60 million investing in Beats by Dre & Blaze Pizza.

James himself explains the new investment approach better than anyone else.

“Social media has completely changed how athletes should look at the companies and products they advertise. It happened in the course of my career. Previously, athletes simply took on any projects and received money for advertising. A contract with a beverage manufacturer, a fast food chain, a shoe manufacturer, and so on. Now you need to think carefully and learn everything about the company. What are they? What is their marketing strategy? If I become a partner with someone, then I should not worry about promoting them to my fans through my social networks. It’s a completely different look.”

The new approach was best seen in his relationship with Blaze Pizza.LeBron invested in the pizza chain in 2012 (he owns 10% and paid less than $1 million for them), and in 2015 turned down a $15 million contract with McDonald’s to become the official spokesman for Blaze Pizza. During this time, his company skyrocketed – by 50% in 2018 – and it turned out that James became richer by $ 30 million.

The ad integration is different too: The pizza place doesn’t use James’s image in its ads, but he constantly promotes it as an integral part of his image (don’t ask how this has to do with whole-wheat bagel fanaticism).

For example, after moving to Los Angeles, James invited everyone to a pizza party and gathered thousands of people, but he himself never came to it.

In 2018, LeBron, along with Arnold Schwarzenegger, founded the company Ladder, specializing in sports nutrition, and already in 2020, she left for $ 28 million.

It’s not all of his investments. It is known that James now owns a stake in Tonal, which produces “smart exercise machines” for the home, and Lyft, which rents bicycles.

James’ property is valued at $80 million

Forbes found at least three houses in James, the total cost of which is about $ 80 million.

LeBron owns a mansion in his native Akron, it is estimated at $10 million.

In 2017, he bought an eight-room house in Los Angeles’ exclusive Brentwood neighborhood for $23 million.

In 2020, James became the owner of a 1,200-square-foot Beverly Hills estate that was listed for $39 million, but the frugal basketball player got it for $36.75 million. It is known that he demolished a house built in the 1930s and built a new one for himself on the site.

LeBron 90 million richer thanks to Liverpool’s investment:

In 2011, James bought a 2% stake in Liverpool for £6.5m. And it turned out to be a very profitable investment: Fenway Sports Partners of Red Sox owner John Henry bought the club for $477 million in 2010, and now its value is estimated at $4.5 billion.

“It’s amazing that the historic club is back on top and we are part of it,” said business partner and childhood friend of James Maverick Carter. “LeBron loves the fact that he’s connected to another global sport.”

James is not only an active supporter of Liverpool from a distance and often visits his team’s matches. His arrival at the main match of the Champions League made a well-known sensation (especially considering that LeBron’s club habitually lost in the final).

The share allows James to explore the process of managing sports teams from a different perspective and gain experience for the future. Maverick Carter has repeatedly said that if the Caves are available, then LeBron will definitely qualify for them after the end of his career.

James’ stake in production company SpringHill is valued at $300 million.

James has been dreaming of producing video content for a long time.

At first, the ideas were so-so: in 2007 he appeared on Saturday Night Live, and in 2010 he produced his own show, which was called The Decision, and made him the most hated person in the world.

Despite the failures, interest did not go anywhere: in 2015, LeBron founded the production company SpringHill Entertainment (named after the area where James grew up), which immediately received financial support from Warner Bros.

SpringHill Entertainment created The Wall for NBC, a game show that combines elements of the quiz, pinball, and wild binge.

SpringHill Entertainment has produced documentaries More Than a Game (about LeBron’s school years), I Am a Giant (about the life of football player Victor Cruz), What’s My Name (about Muhammad Ali), Perfect Chaos (about Neymar ), “The Carter Effect” (about the influence of Vince Carter), a picture about Naomi Osaka and a dozen more documentary projects and television shows.

SpringHill Entertainment also produces a sports video, for the promotion of which James himself is involved. In parallel, an affiliated platform called Uninterrupted appeared: the show focuses on LeBron’s personal life and his opinions on a variety of topics.

The most striking example is the series from the barbershop, in which James and Green appeared, as well as all of LeBron’s friends.

“More than an athlete”.

Then on ESPN+ comes the series “More than an athlete.” A show where LeBron and his childhood friends (they are business partners) discuss a variety of topics and moments from life.

“Now the number of platforms and distribution channels is increasing: social networks, Amazon, Netflix,” Maverick Carter explained. “People need unique content and the ability to tell quality stories, something that gets noticed. We saw it as an opportunity to tell stories about people who are like us and who think the same way we do.”

James, of course, showed himself on the screen. First, he appeared in the comedy “Girl without complexes” and collected a lot of positive reviews. And then he released the second version of “Space Jam”, which was not entirely successful, but became a bright part of the universal image of James.

Planned for July is a biography about LeBron’s early life and a remake of the comedy House Party.

In 2020, all three of LeBron James’ companies – the marketing agency Robot Company, Uninterrupted, and SpringHill Entertainment – merged into a single entity called SpringHill.Last year, it was valued at $725 million, and just then James sold about half of the stake to a variety of investors (from Fenway Sports Group to Nike).

LeBron received 500 million from various advertisers; his lifetime contract with Nike is allegedly worth $1 billion.

When James entered the league, Reebok, Adidas, and Nike fought for him. It was in this sequence that the meetings with their representatives were scheduled.

It is clear that James idolized Michael Jordan and often performed in Tracy McGrady sneakers, but everything was not so simple: for example, at the game of the best students in the country in 2003, he scored 27 points in red and white Reebok “L23J” sneakers.

The meeting with Reebok ended in drama. The company was on the rise (their main client then was Iverson) and promised James absolute attention due to their unwillingness to scatter other athletes. But boss Paul Fireman wanted to settle the situation with one blow – he invited James, his mother, Maverick Carter, and an agent into the office and handed them a check for $10 million. They could have taken him right then with the condition that they would cancel meetings with competitors. James’ mother burst into tears and wanted to accept the offer, but LeBron himself did not flinch.

Adidas promised LeBron that he could push the boundaries of an ordinary athlete:

Adidas has confused themselves. The company picked up the perfect approach – they positioned Muhammad Ali as an ideal and promised LeBron that he could push the boundaries of an ordinary athlete and not only dribble but also discuss important social issues. But at the last moment, they panicked: Adidas wanted to offer the newcomer a contract for 100 million, but at the last moment they began to doubt that it was worth it, and eventually called the amount of 75 million.

Nike outperformed the competition in both presentation quality (which included references to past greats and a bunch of small details like LeBron’s favorite cereal) and total (90 for seven years, plus a 10 million signing bonus). The collaboration, of course, proved to be fruitful: LeBron’s sneakers are the most popular among current NBA basketball players, although they are inferior in sales to Jordan’s.

In 2015, James signed a lifetime contract with Nike for an undisclosed sum. Maverick Carter claims she’s over a billion dollars.

Already in the original agreement, there was a clause according to which James received a bonus if he played for a big market team. So Nike didn’t hesitate when LeBron announced that he had signed a deal with the Lakers – the company hung a huge image of a player scoring from above next to the Staples Center.

Naturally, it is because of his relationship with Nike that LeBron has to put up with relentless criticism from the camp of hypocritical Republicans: they do not like that he gets into the affairs of his own country, and therefore they reproach him for not opposing what is happening in China.

LeBron’s agency unveils players with billion-dollar contracts:

LeBron first met Rich Paul when he was still in high school. A significant meeting took place at the Akron airport – Paul was selling sports jerseys from the trunk and attracted the attention of James in the Warren Moon uniform that he was wearing at that moment. LeBron’s team was flying to Atlanta and Paul gave him his supplier’s contact and promised to give him a discount.

Since then, they have become inseparable.

While still a schoolboy, Paul raised about 15 thousand a month by trading T-shirts. He planned to develop the business further but received an offer from LeBron – 50 thousand just for being there.

In 2006, LeBron broke up with Aaron Goodwin and made Leon Rose an agent, and Paul became his assistant and comprehended all the intricacies of this role – in 2012 he created his own company and became the official representative of James.

Despite all the controversy, after the “Decision” Paul maintained a good relationship with Dan Gilbert and did everything to organize LeBron’s solemn return to Cleveland.

Using LeBron as a rooftop, Rich Paul is trying to build the most powerful agency in the league, and he succeeds. He not only regularly twists the arms of the owners (see: Tristan Thompson, J. R. Smith, Kentavius ​​Caldwell-Pope, Nerlens Noel), but from almost nothing he has assembled an impressive clip of Ben Simmons, John Wall, and Anthony Davis.

After Rich Paul changed the rules of the game in the NBA, or rather, showed that he did not care about any rules (arranged a series with Simmons forever not playing, moved Anthony Davis to Los Angeles, who had two years left in the contract, knocked out a lot of money for Horton-Tucker, is now launching ducks so that Chicago gives the maximum to Zach Lavin), LeBron and his friends have already been called crime bosses. And for a businessman, this is probably the highest rating.

LeBron earned about $1.2 billion during his career, he has more than 100 million subscribers in social networks.

According to Forbes, James has earned $1.2 billion (before tax) in his career, making him the first NBA player to do so before retiring from the sport.. For example, in 2021, he became richer by 122.1 million in a year (in addition to Nike and Blaze Pizza, he advertises Coca-Cola, Kia, and Intel), and almost three times more off-site than on it.

James has repeatedly said that becoming a billionaire is the most important goal in his life. In many ways, this is why he moved to the Lakers: for the first time in his career, he found himself in a big market club, got even more opportunities for self-promotion, stepped up projects related to Hollywood, and starred as the main star in a big movie.

Billionaire Warren Buffett, who knows LeBron personally, noted that he has a mindset focused on making money.

LeBron himself admitted that he is the most stingy player in the NBA and, for example, used the Pandora streaming with ads for a long time (although you can remove it for only $ 5 a month). This, however, did not stop him from laying out 40 million to finance a school in Akron.

“Every time LeBron writes something about the Blaze,” said company founder Elise Wetzel, “it’s like the supersonic clap. Immediately, tens of millions of people in the States begin to discuss it – both people who love us and those who have never heard of us.

James is now the most followed US athlete on social media. In terms of the size of the state at the moment, he has already come close to Floyd Mayweather and bypassed all his fellow basketball players, with the exception of Michael Jordan. Ahead is a new goal – to double the fortune and bypass both the trio of golfers (Woods, Nicklaus, Palmer) and His Air. The pursuit of the “ghost of Jordan” will continue into retirement.

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