Born on 30 December 1984 in Akron, Ohio, LeBron James is an American basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers of the NBA. He has won various NBA championships with the Lakers (in 2020), the Cleveland Cavaliers (in 2016), and the Miami Heat (in 2012 and 2013).
James is the all-time leading scorer in NBA history and is a four-time NBA championship winner. The four-time Most Valuable Player (MVP) award winner, James was fourth on Forbes‘ list of the World’s Highest-Paid Athletes in 2023 and the highest-paid basketball player or from any sport apart from football in the list.
From the NBA, Lebron James has earned up to US$300 million since being drafted in 2003, along with bringing in a whopping US$700 million from endorsements, merchandising, licensing, and media. On top of that, he has had a lifelong deal with Nike since 2016 which brings him US$30 million a year.
Lebron James is easily one of the most iconic athletes of all time. He is also the first-ever athlete to make US$1 billion in earnings while still playing, a point he has reached due to his savvy business investments and brand deals.
Let us take a look at all his business deals outside the NBA.
Sponsorship deals and brand endorsements
The Lakers star has well-paid endorsement deals with many brands. According to Forbes, James’ endorsement deals netted him an additional US$75 million on top of his salary as an NBA player in 2023. Some of his brand endorsements include AT&T, Beats Electronics, GMC, KIA Motors, Nike, RIMOWA, Walmart, Ruffles, Tonal and Mountain Dew amongst others. Below are details of a few of his endorsements.
LeBron signed a multi-year partnership with the official NBA chips brand Ruffles to introduce the fans to new ridges campaigns. The aim of these campaigns is to inspire Americans to embrace life’s obstacles and achieve their goals. James became the face of this campaign, which initially started in December 2020 and includes multiple campaigns across retail, social media, and more.
In 2019, Lebron James became an investor in Tonal, a “smart” home gym. LBJ has the brand’s equipment in his own gym and via co-branded campaigns shows the importance of health and fitness as he maintains his place as one of the all-time greatest athletes.
Tonal helps athletes in improving their strength conditioning, and Lebron is just one of 30+ brand investors which include the likes of Serena Williams, Steph Curry, and many more top athletes. Tonal also has 90% of the market share in the strength conditioning industry, showing what a great investment it has been for the Lakers player.
In 2020, LeBron James became an integral partner of Mountain Dew’s new launch of the MTN DEW rise energy, a new kind of energy drink formulated to kick off the morning with mental boosts and improve immunity support of the body.
The multi-year PepsiCo partnership with James includes Beverages with MTN DEW RISE ENERGY and activates PepsiCo’s portfolio in unique and unexpected ways, including the Snack category.
AT&T has in place with James a long-term partnership that looks to use technology, entertainment, and innovation towards social advancement and promote new products and services of the telecom giant.
As part of the deal, James appears in the national advertising campaign for AT&T TV, which launched in March 2020. Also, as part of this multifaceted campaign, AT&T is committed to developing a learning institute dedicated to the Lebron James Family Foundation and building graduate hotels for students and families in immediate need of safe and stable housing.
James has been a brand ambassador of luxury luggage brand Rimova since May 2019.
Nike’s association with LeBron James began in 2003, which was later converted into a massive US$1bn lifetime sponsorship deal.
Crypto.com has already onboarded many stars and even has the naming rights to the Lakers’ home court. It partnered with LeBron and The LeBron James Family Foundation (LJF) in January 2022.
Beats by Dre
James signed with Beats in 2008 for promotion, which earned him more than US$1 million per commercial, before he invested in a minor stake of the company. A few years later, LeBron bagged US$30 million when Apple acquired the company for US$3 billion. The super star is said to have earned even more than US$500 million after the takeover.
In July 2022, James teamed up with premium bottled water brand LIFEWTR on a multi-year deal. The partnership is built around James’ passion for community empowerment.
Walmart and James teamed up in May 2019. This partnership is built around James’ commitment towards developing communities and work towards investing in education, fighting hunger, and helping people live better.
In February 2020, General Motors revealed James as a brand ambassador for the Hummer EV.
James announced a multi-year partnership with meditation and relaxation app Calm in December 2019. James aims to educate people about the importance of mental fitness through the partnership and also voices original audio content on the application apart from appearing in multiple advertisement campaigns.
In March 2023, James teamed up with Sony to release limited-edition PlayStation 5 consoles, which were designed by James himself.
In December 2021, James signed a multi-year partnership agreement with American chips brand Ruffles, which is also the Official Chip of the NBA. The partnership has James promoting the product and starring in various advertisement campaigns for the brand.
- LeBron owns a humongous 30,000-sq-ft compound in Akron, his hometown. He currently stays in a Los Angeles Mansion that cost him US$23 million. The superstar also invested in a 13,000 sq ft Beverly Hills land, which he’ll most likely tear down to build a private estate.
- LeBron has driven top-of-the-line cars of some well-known premium carmakers. He owns a Bentley Continental GT (worth US$218,400), a Lamborghini Aventador Roadster, a Ferrari 458 Spider, a 2010 Chevy Camaro SS, a Dodge Challenger SRT, a Ferrari 599, a 2018 Maybach S650, a Ferrari F430 Spider, a 2015 Kia K900, a Mercedes-Benz Maybach 57S, a Porsche 911 Turbo S, a Rolls Royce Phantom, and a 1975 Chevy Impala. He currently drives a custom K900 Kia.
- The four-time NBA MVP’s watch collection includes a Rolex Day-Date II (valued at close to £24,000), a Rolex Yacht-Master II (valued at nearly £50,000) and a Rolex Sky-Dweller (with a price tag of £26,500).
- LeBron also spends US$1.5 million for investment on himself. The basketball champion owns a world-class gym facility at his home. He also uses a cryo chamber to take cryotherapy and a hyperbaric chamber to allow more oxygen into his body. You’ll find him wearing compression gears, and all this accounts for an enormous expense.
- James has always been a smart businessman. He owns 19 Blaze Pizza franchises, SpringHill Entertainment, and a media company ‘Uninterrupted’ with his friend Maverick Carter. In 2018, James and fellow celebrities Arnold Schwarzenegger, Cindy Crawford, and Lindsey Vonn found a health and wellness company, Ladder. In 2018, James also founded the LeBron James Family Foundation.
- LeBron partnered with Fenway Sports Group in 2011, which owns the Boston Red Fox, Liverpool FC, and half of Roush Fenway Racing. As a part of this deal, LeBron now owns 2% stake in Liverpool Football Club. LFC is booming, and this only adds to LeBron’s net worth. The initial investment in 2011 was worth US$6.5 million. In March 2023, James increased his equity in Fenway Sports Group, which was part of a lifetime marketing deal he signed with the Boston Red Sox, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Liverpool Football Club.
- In 2004, LeBron founded The LeBron Family Foundation (LJFF) to manage all his charity work. The company helped raise money for several causes such as the Boys and Girls Club of America, After-School All-Stars, the Children’s Defense Fund, Gabriel’s Angel Foundation, and ONEXONE.
- LeBron built the “IPromise” school for at-risk youth in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. He also started “Wheels for Education” and paid for 1,000 kids to attend college and provided school supplies, access to computers, and bicycles to low-income kids.
- LJFF, along with Crypto.com, announced in January 2022 a multi-year partnership with Web3-related educational and workforce development opportunities that help students and families build a strong foundation in Web3 and blockchain applications.
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