LeBron James, already an NBA record-setting 18-time All-Star, a four-time champion, and a two-time Olympic gold medalist, has achieved yet another first in NBA history.
Forbes believes that James has become a billionaire while still playing basketball after he earned $121.2 million before taxes and agents’ fees over the past year.
Forbes estimates the 37-year-old superstar’s wealth at $1 billion. James, the first active NBA player to enter the billionaire’s list, missed the playoffs this year for just the fourth time in his 19 seasons.
(Michael Jordan, the only other basketball billionaire, didn’t break ten figures until 2014, more than a decade after he retired, thanks to a well-timed investment in the Charlotte Hornets basketball franchise.)
James said of the issue in GQ, “It’s my biggest milestone,” in 2014. “Obviously. I wish to maximize my business. And if I happen to acquire it, if I chance to be a billion-dollar athlete, ho. Hip hip hooray! Oh, my God, I’m gonna be excited.”
Dollars Earned Every Year
LeBron James makes about $55 million a year in endorsements on top of the $40 million he earns from the NBA. He now earns about $100 million per year after taxes and other expenses.
LeBron James made $86 million between June 2016 and May 2017. LeBron made $85.5 million between June 2017 and June 2018. He made an additional $85 million between June 2018 and May 2019.
Salaries Earned Over a Profession
LeBron James made a little over $126 million in salary over his first 10 seasons in the NBA. LeBron James made an estimated $326 million in endorsements during the same time period. That’s $452 million in earnings from his first ten years in the workforce.
In exchange for playing for the Lakers for the next two seasons and $85 million, LeBron extended his deal. By the time his current deal expires in 2023, LeBron will have made $428 million during his NBA career.
Too far, LeBron’s career earnings from contracts and endorsements total well over $800 million (before taxes and expenses).
Agreements to Endorse
Many major corporations have signed endorsement deals with LeBron, including McDonald’s, Microsoft, State Farm, Beats by Dre, Coca-Cola, Dunkin’ Donuts, Baskin-Robbins, Samsung, Nike, and many more.
LeBron James endorsed Beats by Dre and even had a 1% stake in the company. Throughout his time as a spokesperson, he collected a total of $1 million in royalties. LeBron James received $30 million from the company’s sale to Apple for $3 billion.
The Nike Agreement
At age 18, LeBron James inked his first endorsement deal with Nike. Over the course of seven years, the agreement paid $90 million, or $12.8 million annually. As it turned out, Reebok offered him $115 million to sign with them.
LeBron James now receives $20 million a year from Nike between his salary and royalties from his signature shoe line.
LeBron signed a lifetime endorsement agreement with Nike in December 2015, which could be worth over $1 billion. According to reports, it is the richest contract in Nike’s history and the first-ever lifetime deal issued by the brand.
Most people are aware that LeBron James did not play collegiate basketball before being selected first overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2003 NBA draught. His initial deal netted him $18.8 million over four years.
He increased his annual compensation from $5.8 million to $13 million, then $14.4 million, and eventually $15.8 million for the 2009-2010 season after signing a three-year, $60 million agreement with the Cavs before the 2007-2008 season.
The 2011 season would be remembered for “The Decision,” a television special in which LeBron James famously proclaimed his intention to leave Cleveland for Miami. While he was mocked for what many saw as an arrogant television special, “The Decision” actually raised around $6 million for good causes.
LeBron James accepted a six-year deal worth $110 million less than the going rate when he moved to Miami. His motivation for making this move was the (correct) belief that he and Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade would be able to win an NBA title in Miami.
He made $1.2 million less than he was making in Miami in his debut season with The Heat. LeBron James moved back to Cleveland prior to the 2014-2015 season after spending four years with The Heat.
LeBron James, while in Cleveland, consciously opted for 1-year contracts in order to make the most of his money as the NBA wage cap increased year after year.
LeBron James signed a three-year, $100 million contract with the Cavaliers in 2016, just after they had won the NBA title.
To the tune of $23,000,000 in his first year of work. His second season earned him $30.963 million, making him the highest-paid athlete in the league. As of the third year of the contract, he was earning a league-high $33.285 million.
LeBron signed a four-year, $153 million agreement with the Los Angeles Lakers before the 2018-2019 season, with an annual salary of $38 million on average.
LeBron and the Lakers announced a two-year, $85 million contract deal for him in November 2020, keeping him with the franchise through 2023. The annual starting salary in the NBA is approximately $42.5 million.