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How Lebron James Became a Billionaire

LeBron James—18-time NBA All-Star, four-time NBA champion, and two-time gold medalist at the Olympics—has achieved yet another milestone by accomplishing an unheard-of feat in the NBA.


James has reportedly officially become a billionaire while still playing basketball, according to Forbes, after another record-breaking year of earnings, which totaled $121.2 million before taxes and agents' fees over the last 12 months.


According to Forbes, the superstar's net worth is $1 billion. James is the first active NBA player to enter the billionaires list, missing the playoffs this year for just the fourth time in 19 seasons. (Michael Jordan, the only other basketball billionaire, didn't reach that mark until 2014, more than 10 years after he retired, thanks to a smart investment in the Charlotte Hornets basketball franchise.)


It's my biggest accomplishment, James said in a prescient 2014 interview with GQ. “Obviously. To grow my business as much as possible. And should I obtain it and should I also happen to be a millionaire athlete, hey. Hurrah, hurrah! Oh my God, I'm going to be happy.


James has successfully maximized his company, resulting in pretax earnings of more than $1.2 billion. The Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, and Los Angeles Lakers have given him more than $385 million in compensation, making him the highest-paid active player in the NBA. He has earned over $900 million off the court through endorsement deals and other business endeavors.


James was raised by a variety of family members, friends, neighbors, and his peewee football coach before he became the most anticipated high school basketball prospect in history. James was born to a struggling, 16-year-old single mother in Akron, Ohio. At the age of 18, he signed his first contract with Nike, notably turning down offers from Reebok and Adidas in favor of what he believed to be the more reliable long-term business partner. a wise choice He signed a lifetime contract with Nike in late 2015 after more than ten years of success, which will pay him tens of millions of dollars every year. He was the second-highest-earning athlete in the world last year thanks to Nike, along with endorsement deals with companies like AT&T, PepsiCo, and Walmart.


But James has been more than just a salesman, which is the real secret to his billion-dollar fortune. James has long negotiated agreements that grant him stock in the brands he partners with, giving him a share of the profits rather than a one-time payment. James turned over a McDonald's endorsement deal worth an estimated $15 million over four years in 2015 to wager on the rapidly expanding Blaze Pizza company, in which he is an investor. He has invested in companies including ride-hailing behemoth Lyft and smart gym manufacturer Tonal.


And last, there is SpringHill, a TV and film production company that James and his business partner Maverick Carter founded. At a $725 million valuation, the venture—which contributed to the production of the HBO documentary What's My Name: Muhammad Ali and the $163 million (global box office gross) Space Jam: A New Legacy—was purchased by outside investors including Boston Red Sox owner Fenway Sports Group and Epic Games in October. Of course, James continues to be the largest shareholder.


Here’s a breakdown of LeBron James’ estimated $1 billion fortune.


THE SPRING HILL COMPANY

$300 MILLION


SpringHill Entertainment, which was established in 2007 as a production vehicle for the award-winning documentary More Than A Game about James' high school years, combined three businesses into one. It was named after the Akron, Ohio, apartment complex where James and his mother finally found stability.


After raising $100 million from investors, including James' investment advisor Paul Wachter and Elisabeth Murdoch, the daughter of News Corp tycoon Rupert Murdoch, James and Carter combined everything into The SpringHill Company in 2020. James sold a "substantial minority stake" to a select group of investors in October of last year for $725 million, including RedBird Capital Partners, Fenway Sports Group, Nike, and Epic Games. James is the company's greatest individual stakeholder, albeit it's thought that his ownership does not surpass 50%.


SpringHill is currently working on a biopic about James' early years and a remake of the 1990 comedy House Party, which hit HBO Max in July. SpringHill helped produce 2021's Space Jam: A New Legacy (starring James) and a recent Netflix docuseries about tennis player Naomi Osaka.


FENWAY SPORTS GROUP

$90 MILLION


James has expressed his desire to one day own an NBA team in public. He's making good progress. The NBA star already owns professional hockey, baseball, and soccer teams.


When James' sports marketing company partnered with Fenway Sports Group in 2011, he acquired a small ownership in Liverpool F.C., an English Premier League soccer team. He and Maverick Carter traded their shares in Liverpool for a portion in FSG last year.


The Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park, Liverpool, half of Roush Fenway Racing, and 80% of the New England Sports Network are all properties owned by the firm, of which James is thought to own about 1%. FSG decided to pay around $900 million in late 2021 to expand its portfolio by acquiring the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins.


REAL ESTATE

$80 MILLION


James had long since been living the high life. At least three properties worth a combined $80 million are under his ownership. He constructed a $10 million estate close to Akron, Ohio, his hometown. In 2017, he paid $23 million for an eight-bedroom mansion in the affluent Brentwood district of Los Angeles. A 13,000 square foot Beverly Hills house was his most recent indulgence. James spent $36.75 million purchasing the 1930s hilltop house, which he has already demolished in order to build his own palace.


BLAZE PIZZA

$30 MILLION


James has invested his entire life in Blaze Pizza for many years, including working behind the counter and going door-to-door to distribute pies to spread the word about the company. It's easy to understand his passion. In 2012, he reportedly paid less than $1 million for a 10% stake in the made-to-order, assembly-line-style pizza chain; since then, it has expanded to more than 300 company-owned and franchised locations across the United States and Canada. Forbes pegs the value of James' stake in the franchise at roughly $30 million, plus his minor share of the 18 Blaze franchise locations operated by restaurateur Larry Levy in Florida and Illinois.


CASH AND OTHER INVESTMENTS

MORE THAN $500 MILLION


Even after taking into account managers, agents, lawyers, and a superstar's spending habits, Forbes still believes James has more than a half-billion dollars in net assets over and beyond what is indicated above. It is expensive to live like LeBron. This includes earnings from significant deals, such as the $3 billion sale of Beats by Dre to Apple in 2014 (James was a spokesperson and owned a tiny portion of this company), as well as shares of publicly traded fitness company Beachbody, which acquired Ladder, the sports nutrition company James cofounded with Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2020 for $28 million in stock.

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