LeBron James’s lifetime deal with Nike is worth over a billion dollars
Following the retirement of Kobe Bryant, LeBron James earns the biggest salary in the NBA.
But, like footballers in the UK, basketball players get a lot of extra money through sponsorship deals. James’s current salary is $22.9 million (£15.6 million), according to ESPN, but Forbes estimates James has made $48 million (£33 million) this season off the court. Over double what he makes with the day job.
No doubt the biggest contributor to that small fortune was Nike, which doubled down on James in 2015 when it signed the first lifetime sponsorship deal in its 44-year history – a deal that has been revealed by a close friend and business partner of James to be worth over $1 billion (£685 million).
Speaking to GQ in a fascinating interview, Maverick Carter, James’s business manager and creative director, explained all.
“Come on, Mav! Can you ballpark it?”, the interviewer asks Carter. “What are people saying?” he responds. “Kanye said a billion. So a billion.” This time Carter says nothing. He just smiles, and points a finger to the sky.
“Yeah. It’s a fantastic deal. Nike feels great about the deal. That’s the most important thing. As great as I feel, as great as LeBron feels -Nike feels fantastic about it. It’s the largest deal in the history of the company. Their hope is he makes even more. And our hope is that, too, obviously,” he adds.
On top of his record breaking Nike deal, James also has endorsements from Beats by Dre, Samsung and Coca-Cola, among others. Last year saw him make his Hollywood debut in Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck with his performance getting rave reviews, and it’s thought he’ll star in Warner Bros’ forthcoming Space Jam 2.
On top of that James owns a production company expected to do big things in the coming years, as well as a multimedia platform for athletes called Uninterrupted that Time Warner saw enough potential to invest in.
“Once basketball is over, you’ve got fucking 50 years left to live. So you gotta hit ‘em while you got the muscle,” said Carter.
From where we’re standing, it doesn’t seem like James will ever have to step foot in a gym again.