There are many well-off NBA athletes. Just getting to the league earns players a solid amount of money, and that only goes up with time. The better a player is, the more they get paid. So it should come as no surprise that nobody has earned more than Lebron James.
The Lakers guard is an incredible player, and that talent is accurately reflected in his net worth. I will take a look at those career earnings, mixed with his numerous endorsements, to shed light on exactly where his large fortune came from and how it continues to grow.
Anyone who has ever watched Lebron play knows how special he is on the court. His talent, mixed with his star presence, allowed him to grow into one of the most spectacular athletes on Earth. That then led him to score some of the biggest deals in NBA history.
In fact, Lebron recently became the second richest player to ever set foot on an NBA court. His net worth just passed an incredible $1 billion. While he’s still a billion (or so) behind Michael Jordan, no other player is past $600 million. That’s how much money he has.
Getting to $100 million is a mark reserved only for the top athletes. Getting to $1 billion is almost impossible. Still, James managed to make it happen by signing large contracts, making sure he was always on a strong deal, and putting together a slew of top-end endorsements.
A Good Start
No NBA player in league history has ever had as much hype coming into the league as Lebron. He was an absolute superstar from his first days of highschool, and he had national recognition due to his on-court basketball IQ, scoring ability, and unmatched athleticism.
As such, he got paid as soon as the Cavaliers signed him. While many organizations wait to see how someone will pan out, or they tend to be more careful about giving away money to an unproven player, James was the exception to the rule.
Eager to lock him down, the Cavaliers signed the eighteen year old to a max rookie contract with the team for $12.96 million. That’s far beyond what most first year players go for, and showed how much he was set to earn if he succeeded in his career. And succeed he did.
Lebron went on a tear after joining up with the Cavaliers, showing that he had what it took to thrive at the highest level. After bringing the organization into the spotlight and taking the team to the Finals, the Cavaliers decided to put him on a four-year extension worth $60.4 million.
Top, Consistent Earnings
Lebron’s first deal was a huge amount of cash that instantly propelled him to the one of the league’s top earners. However, it was just the beginning. After that contract ran out in Cleveland, his decision to go to the Heat got him a $110 million paycheck over six years.
He took less than the max so the team could sign superstars Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, but it was still one of the largest in the league. He would then go on to sign two more $100 million plus deals (both with the Cavaliers) before getting another $85 million in LA.
His total earnings up to this point in time are past $400 million. While Jordan has more total cash, that number, combined with James’ current contract, sets him to be the highest earner in NBA history. He will have more than $600 million when it’s all said and done.
Deals on Deals on Deals
There’s no doubt that a good chunk of Lebron’s net worth came from his NBA contracts, but what truly pushed him into the stratosphere are his endorsements. He’s had a ton of extra deals during his time in the league, and they’ve all paid off in a big, big way.
Where many athletes get support from a single brand or a few solid companies, Lebron diversified. He wasn’t content to simply sit back and collect a single paycheck. Rather, he went out and signed contract after contract after contract from plenty of big name brands.
He landed a range of deals, from Walmart and GMC to PepsiCo, AT&T, and Kia Motors. He has done deals with Ruffles, Mountain Dew, and Wheaties as well. Those alone are worth tens of millions of dollars.
However, his biggest contract came when he signed a lifetime deal with Nike in 2015 that is set to earn him over $500 million in his life. Many players have done well when it comes to shoes, but a lifetime signing is incredibly special and pays out much, much more than a regular one.
Another reason Lebron got ahead of so many similar athletes is that he’s a savvy investor. Not content to settle with his league earnings, he reinvested a lot of what he made into the Fenway Sports Group, The Spring Hill Company, Blaze Pizza, and various real estate ventures.
With that, he’s tied to Liverpool, the New England Patriots, as well as the Boston Red Sox. His real estate deals have brought him in more than $80 million alone, while his deal with Blaze Pizza has been worth more than $30 million so far.
His investments aren’t making up his entire wealth on their own, but it’s hard to be as rich as Lebron without finding ways to grow your money.
Few athletes have ever been as big or as recognized as Lebron James. He’s a megastar in every sense of the word, and has become one of the most famous people on planet Earth. As such, it comes as no surprise that he’s paid more than almost everyone else in the world.
He’s only the second NBA player to reach billion dollar status, and will likely stay as the second for decades (if not forever). Long-term athlete earnings will set anyone up for life, but Lebron was never content with that. He went much, much biggers.