UPDATE [23/07/21]: It’s official… LeBron James has crossed the three-comma threshold to go down in history as the very first active NBA player to ever become a billionaire, Sportico reports. US$330 million / AU$447 million on the court and the rest, incredibly, found elsewhere (read more below). Long live the King.
Original Article – LeBron James Is On Track To Become A Billionaire This Year
The King of Los Angeles won’t just be securing the title of highest-earning NBA player for the seventh consecutive year in 2021. As per the analysis of Forbes, LeBron James will soon be admitted to the three-comma club, joining the elite company of billionaire athletes which currently includes Tiger Woods, Floyd Mayweather, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Roger Federer, and of course, His Airness Michael Jordan.
“LeBron James is the NBA’s top-earning player for the seventh straight year, including off-court income – 2016-17 was the only season of his career James had the highest playing salary,” explains the financial publication.
“He’s expected to earn US$95.4 million (AU$127.6 million), including an estimated US$64 million (AU$85 million) from endorsements, memorabilia, and media. It is a record haul for an NBA player and the highest ever in American team sports.”
“The historic year will push his career earnings to $1 billion – including US$700 million (AU$936.4 million) off the court. He joins Tiger Woods, Floyd Mayweather, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Lionel Messi in reaching the three-comma club while still an active athlete.”
Interestingly enough, James may soon be joined by the Brooklyn Nets’ Kevin Durant and Golden State Warriors’ Steph Curry. Durant has racked up US$580 million (AU$758.6 million) in career earnings, and is expected to hit the capital B within his playing career thanks to a 10-year Nike deal, as well as his savvy investments via his Thirty-Five Ventures. Curry, on the other hand, currently has US$430 million (AU$582 million) in career earnings to his name and has been marked to follow the same footsteps through sheer star power alone.
The four-time NBA MVP’s off-court hustle certainly isn’t a surprise to anyone who has been keeping score at home. Last year, it was revealed that his payout for being an early adopter of Dr Dre and Jimmy Iovine’s Beats Electronics may have yielded a little more than the widely reported sum of US$30 million. Up until that point, the widespread assumption was the James held nothing more than a small stake received circa 2008 in exchange for being a brand ambassador.
Those initial reports were, however, off the mark due to one crucial detail very few were privy to. LeBron James wasn’t just an ambassador compensated with some forgettable percentage – he was also a silent investor. So when the time came for Tim Cook and Apple to cough up US$3 billion (AU$4 billion) for Beats in its entirety, James’ cut amounted to somewhere in the ballpark of US$700 million (AU$936.4 million). It’s worth noting the exact figure has still yet to be confirmed by the man himself, meaning there’s every chance LeBron James has been quietly walking amongst us as a billionaire.
Previous to the entire Beats revelation, in 2011, James managed to acquire a 2% stake in Liverpool FC through his marketing firm LRMR alongside Fenway Sports Partners – which was then worth around US$6.5 million (AU$8.7 million). Fast forward to 2018 and that very same stake demonstrated a revised value of US$32 million (AU$42.8 million); and just a year later in 2019, it’d appreciated to approximately US$43.6 million (AU$58.3 million).
And of course, starring in + producing a Space Jam sequel in collaboration with Warner Bros through his own budding production company certainly wouldn’t hurt the old bank account, either.