NBA player Lebron James has hit a new milestone as Forbes has declared him a billionaire estimating his net worth at $1 billion. At the end of the season last year, the basketball star earned $121.2 million dollars.
He has commanded more than $385 million in salary from the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers as the NBA’s highest-paid active player. Off the court, he has raked in upwards of $900 million in income from endorsements and other business ventures bringing his net worth to the tune of more than $1.2 billion in pretax earnings.
The 37-year-old is an NBA all-star, 4-time NBA champion, and 2-time Olympic gold medalist is the first active NBA player to make the billionaires list. The only other basketball billionaire to make this list is Michael Jordan, and he didn’t hit ten figures until 2014, more than a decade after he retired.
In an interview with GQ in 2014, the basketball star prophesied that he was on his way to being a billion-dollar athlete saying “It’s my biggest milestone, Obviously. I want to maximize my business. And if I happen to get it, if I happen to be a billion-dollar athlete, ho. Hip hip hooray! Oh, my God, I’m gonna be excited.”
A breakdown of Lebron James’ fortune
Real Estate – $80 million
The Billionaire owns at least three properties, worth about $80 million in total.
He bought an 8-bedroom spread in Los Angeles’ tony Brentwood neighbourhood in 2017 for $23 million. He built a $10 million mansion near his hometown of Akron, Ohio. He also owns a 13,000-square-foot Beverly Hills mansion which he paid $36.75 million for and has already torn down to replace with a mansion of his own.
Fenway Sports Group – $90 million
Among the holdings of the basketball star includes pro baseball, soccer and hockey teams. He also had a minority stake in Liverpool FC a stake which he gained in 2011 an English premier league soccer team which he exchanged for part ownership of Fenway Sports group (which are the owners of Liverpool).
James is also estimated to own 1% of the group, which owns the Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park and Liverpool, plus half of Roush Fenway Racing and 80% of the New England Sports Network.
Blaze Pizza – $30 million
In 2012, He paid less than $1 million for a 10% slice of the assembly-line-style pizza chain. The Pizza company has since grown to more than 300 company-owned and franchised stores throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Forbes estimates James’ stake in the chain to be worth about $30 million.
Cash and other investments
Asides from what has been listed, Forbes still believes that the superstar has more than half a billion dollars in assets even after accounting for lawyers, managers, and his superstar lifestyle. The billionaire has proceeds from major scores, like the $3 billion sales of Beats by Dre to Apple in 2014 which he was the spokesperson and owned a small part, and shares of publicly-traded fitness company Beachbody, which acquired Ladder, the sports nutrition company James co-founded with Arnold Schwarzenegger, in 2020 for $28 million in stock.
The Spring Hill Company – $300 million
The company was founded in 2007 as a production vehicle for the award-winning documentary about Lebron James’ high school years, More Than A Game.
SpringHill combined three companies into one: James’ Robot Company marketing agency, athlete platform Uninterrupted and SpringHill Entertainment.
In 2020, James and his business partner, Carter raised $100 million from backers including James’ investment advisor Paul Wachter and Elisabeth Murdoch, the daughter of News Corp billionaire Rupert Murdoch. Last October, James sold a “significant minority stake” at a $725 million valuation to a handful of investors, but he is still the company’s largest single shareholder, although his stake is believed not to exceed 50%.
SpringHill, also helped produce 2021’s Space Jam: A New Legacy-starring James-and a recent Netflix Docu-series about tennis star Naomi Osaka. The company is also currently working on a biopic about James’ early days and a remake of the 1990 comedy House Party.
There are also other early career decisions that still pay him to date such as his first deal with Nike in 2003, at age 18 after rejecting offers from Reebok and Adidas in favour of what he saw as the better long-term partner. He struck a lifetime agreement with Nike in late 2015 that pays him tens of millions annually.
He also walked away from an endorsement agreement with McDonald’s, worth an estimated $15 million over four years, to instead join the fast-growing Blaze Pizza chain, where he’s an investor. He’s taken equity in brands like smart gym-maker, Tonal and ride-share giant, Lyft.
His deals with brands like AT&T, PepsiCo and Walmart, are also attributed to making him the second-highest-earning athlete in the world.
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