LeBron James has been reinventing what it means to be an athlete since he joined the league in 2003. He’s stayed out of trouble, spoken up about social issues that affect his community and has made a nice chunk of change off the court. Most recently it was unearthed that his 2011 investment of $6.5 million in Liverpool soccer club is now worth $32 million.
But his smart investments go beyond sports— here are a few ways LeBron has stacked his money up.
Nike signed LeBron right after he graduated high school. The tale was the subject of the Sole Man 30 for 30. He initially signed a $100 million deal, which was updated with the lifetime extension in 2015. The numbers haven’t been released, but it’s safe to assume Nike’s new partnership will take care of the James family for several lifetimes. Many thought his Nike deal was a bust in terms of shoe design, but the LeBron VI was a hit, and he’s been on a roll ever since.
Can Shaq really fit in a Buick? Can LeBron really fit in the Kia? Remember – he did drive a Hummer H2 in high school. But in an attempt to double down on his love for the car, Kia recently released a few new commercials starring the 6’8 athlete. In the ad, LeBron claims he really does drive a Kia K900. However, when his statements are accompanied by a sketchy mustache and a turtleneck, it may be hard to believe. But according to Richard Jefferson, he really does.
Beats By Dre
LeBron really cashed out with this one. Similar to Dr. Dre, he owned a minority stake in Beats By Dre, and when the company was sold just under a year ago to Apple, he caked up. When all was said and done, LeBron is said to have made upwards of $30 million. That’s gotta be music to his ears, and it isn’t even counting the many royalty checks he cashed. In comparison, he only made $19 million a year in his Miami Heat contract.
If Sprite is good enough for Drake, then it’s good enough for Bron Bron. And who knows, it may even help with those crazy cramps he gets at the most inopportune times. Since signing the deal, LeBron has been in several commercials and campaigns. He even got his own flavor of Sprite. Deemed LeBron’s Mix, it had a splash of natural cherry and orange flavors. Even the packaging featured a gold crown for the King and gets a chance to appear as his alter ego in commercials.
Back in 2003 when LeBron was fresh out of high school, he signed a deal with the legendary trading card company Upper Deck. At the time, the deal was said to be on par with Tiger Woods,’ which included a $1 million signing bonus and $1 million a year. LeBron signed this contract days after graduating and went number one in the draft months later.
In case you forgot, Apple isn’t the only company that makes smartphones. LeBron may have forgotten, too, as he reportedly gave his teammates Apple Watches once. LeBron’s Samsung deal is said to be worth $100 million, but that didn’t stop him from tweeting about that time his Galaxy Note 2 rebooted and deleted all of his information. Welp.
The King’s endorsement was destined— he was a McDonald’s All-American back in high school. In 2010, LeBron signed a deal with the Golden Arches for an undisclosed amount. But after not appearing in a TV spot for a year, it’s no surprise the partnership ended in October.
After leaving McDonald’s, LeBron signed a deal with…Blaze Pizza in 2012. People raised their eyebrows at the nature of the decision, but as details emerged, it made more sense. He’d been somewhat of a silent partner in the fast-casual chain and was ready to take on the reigns as a spokesperson. Rick Wetzel, co-founder of Blaze, hopes it’ll be bigger than Chipotle, and become as well-known as Starbucks. Having LeBron on his team made that mountain a bit easier to climb— the King’s initial $1 million investment is now worth $35 million.
And here’s the wild card entry. Tencent is the largest internet provider in China and hired the future NBA Hall Of Famer to promote the Chinese version of NBA 2K. The agreement will also allow Tencent to create official LeBron social networking accounts in China. The deal shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, since year over year, his jersey and sneaker sales top all others in the country.