With an estimated net worth of $450 million, Lebron James is one of the richest athletes on the planet. And despite earning over $200 million in playing salary over his 17-year NBA career, much of King James’ wealth has come from endorsements, investments and his transcendence to star athlete to cultural icon.
At one point, James was just a kid from Akron, Ohio. Now, the NBA superstar is one of the most recognizable celebrities in the world.
Ever since he entered the league, and even before, James has been in the public eye. With that has come the opportunity for endorsements, movies, public appearances and everything in between.
James has always been a smart business man. He owns 14 Blaze Pizza franchises, signed a $1 billion “lifetime deal” with Nike in 2015, has stakes in Beats Electronics and Liverpool F.C. and owns his own production company, SpringHill Entertainment.
In 2018, James teamed up with fellow celebrities Aronold Schwarzenegger, Cindy Crawford and Lindsey Vonn to found health and wellness company Ladder. The company specializes in creating high-performance sports supplements and helps athletes achieve fitness goals.
Like his former teammate Shaquille O’Neal, a move to Los Angeles unlocked new entertainment and business opportunities for James.
LeBron also owns his own media company ‘Uninterrupted’ with his long-time friend Maverick Carter. The company collaborated with HBO to produce The Shop, which is described by the network as “a one-of-a-kind barbershop experience, which for many provides a sanctuary for free-flowing and spirited discussions. The series will visit barbershops around the country to gather distinguished individuals who can speak honestly on sports, music, world events, business and other subjects integral to the culture.”
James has also endorsed a variety of products and companies such as Coca-Cola, Beats by Dre, McDonalds, 2k Sports to name a few. The NBA star earns an estimated $53 million yearly off of endorsements alone which is the most among all NBA players and $9 million more than Stephen Curry who is in second place.
LeBron joins soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo as the only athletes to earn more than $43 million off of endorsements. Inconsequentially, the two also rank as the two most popular athletes in the world according to ESPN — an obvious benefit of constantly being in the public eye.
The Lakers star also founded the LeBron James Family Foundation, which opened the “I Promise School” in 2018. The elementary school was opened for at-risk children in the area. James intends to spend over $41 million in order to send all the students to college and although not a business opportunity in particular — show’s James’ ability to be a larger-than-life figure in the minds of many.
By the end of his four-year, $153 contract with the Lakers James will be the highest paid player in NBA in terms of on-court career earnings. However, despite the large amount of money shelled out for his athletic services, the Akron native has dipped his feet into health and wellness, movies and TV, restaurants, sports ownership and various other industries to become arguably the best business man in the NBA today.