Even though LA Lakers failed to qualify for the NBA playoffs, their star player Lebron James has achieved a significant milestone, becoming the first active NBA player to reach the billionaire status.
Forbes reported that James has made $1.2 billion prior to any tax deduction. While his NBA salary accumulated over the last 19 years accounted for $383 million, he has earned almost triple that amount from brand endorsements and business ventures.
Michael Jordan is the only other NBA star on the Forbes’ billionaire list, though he hit the number a decade after his playing career was over.
In an interview with GQ eight years ago, James had expressed his desire to become a billionaire. He said: “It’s my biggest milestone. Obviously. I want to maximize my business. And if I happen to get it, if I happen to be a billion-dollar athlete, ho. Hip hip hooray! Oh, my God, I’m gonna be excited.”
Let’s take a look at some of the most lucrative investments of Lebron James that helped him become a billionaire:
In 2012, Lebron James, along with his business partner Maverick Carter, invested less than $1 million in Blaze Pizza, a fast-casual pizzeria based out in California. James helped the start-up with restaurants in Miami and Chicago, and he currently owns more than 20 Blaze Pizza franchises himself. Five years later, his investment was valued at $25 million, and Blaze Pizza is now the fastest-growing restaurant in the USA.
In March 2021, Lebron James joined Fenway Sports Group, one of the largest sports ownership firms. This investment made James a part-owner of Liverpool FC and Boston Red Sox amongst others. James, however, already had a minority stake in Liverpool, having bought a 2 percent stake in the club a few years ago.
“I think for me and for my partner, Maverick, to be the first two Black men to be a part of that ownership group in the history of that franchise, I think it’s pretty damn cool,” James said after joining FSG.
Lebron James considers his investment in Beats as one of the best decisions he has ever made. Founded by Jimmy Lovine and Dr. Dre in 2006, the company was struggling to reach a wider audience in its initial days.
Then Lebron James was brought in as a partner. While the amount he invested in the company is still undisclosed, his former colleague Kendrick Perkin revealed that James got a cheque for $700 million when Apple acquired Beats for $3 billion.
Lebron James is the largest shareholder in The SpringHill Company, a firm he co-founded with his long-term business partner Maverick Cartner. The company, named after the apartment where lived with his mother, raised over $100 million from Guggenheim Partners, UC Investments, and Main Street Advisors. The company is currently valued at $750million.
Ladder is a health and wellness company Lebron James co-founded with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Cindy Crawford. The company fulfills the dietary needs of professional athletes. Two years ago, it was acquired by Openfit for an undisclosed sum. James and Schwarzenegger are still the minority stakeholders, and they assist them with promotional content.
Featured Image: @Lebron James