NBA’s first ever active billionaire: LeBron James

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NBA’s first ever active billionaire: LeBron James

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James has become the first-ever active NBA player to become a billionaire. Forbes announced on June 2, 2022, that the basketball star’s net worth had crossed the US$1bn mark.

Michael Jordan, whose reported net worth is US$1.7 billion, reached billionaire status almost a decade after his retirement. Forbes has estimated that James’ earnings last year amounted to US$121.2 million, an amount that was the second-highest for an athlete, behind only Lionel Messi’s  US$130 million. 

During the course of his 19-year career, James’ salary from the Lakers, the Miami Heat and the Cleveland Cavaliers has been close to US$400 million, but it’s his off-court earnings that overshadow that amount. Forbes reports that James’ endorsements and business ventures have netted him more than US$900 million. 

James’ first-ever sponsorship deal was in 2003 with Nike, after he turned down Adidas and Reebok. His other investments include entertainment group SpringHill, of which he sold a minority stake for  US$725 million. He has a 1% stake in Fenway Sports Group, which owns the Boston Red Sox, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Liverpool Football Club. He has also invested in Blaze Pizza, Beachbody, ride-sharing company Lyft and fitness startup Tonal. James also has lucrative sponsorship deals with the likes of PepsiCo and Walmart among others. 

James’ real-estate portfolio is reported to be worth around US$80 million and includes his two houses in Los Angeles and a home in his native Akron in Ohio. 

In an interview with GQ in 2014, James had mentioned how becoming a billionaire would be one of his greatest achievements.

Speaking about the prospective milestone, James had stated at the time:

It’s my biggest milestone, obviously. I want to maximise 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.

The two-time Olympic gold medal winner and four-time NBA champion has his path set for his days after his retirement. Even once he’s done playing, James is sure to be making a good amount regularly thanks to his strategic investments over the years. 

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