An 18-Year-Old LeBron James Once Gave Up A $10M Contract — And Got $90M Instead
Photo Credit: Valerie Macon

An 18-Year-Old LeBron James Once Gave Up A $10M Contract — And Got $90M Instead

LeBron James wants to make a documentary.

In a recent report by Hypebeast, it was revealed that the near-billionaire NBA player might be interested in recording a documentary on how he secured his legendary lifetime Nike deal.

Fans will recall that James’ net worth of nearly $1 billion didn’t just come from his time on the court. Rather, it’s thanks to a lifetime of endorsement deals and wise investments in everything from a streaming culinary platform to Lobos 1707 tequila.

But what they might not know is why his legendary deal with Nike is one for the books, and that’s what this rumored documentary is hoping to address.

“The Los Angeles Lakers superstar reposted a post from Bleacher Report that noted LeBron James’ Nike deal ‘has a lifetime deal worth $1B.’ Accompanying the repost on his Instagram stories, LeBron James wrote, ‘The doc is/will be insane!!'” reports Hypebeast.

Let’s take a look at the details of this legendary deal.

The Initial Offer

In 2019, Inc. broke down the initial deal from Reebok to Lebron James.

According to the outlet, Reebok made an initial offer of $10 million in cash when James was still in high school, back in 2003.

Reebok wasn’t the only game in town, though: adidas and Nike were also campaigning to offer the then-rising star a shoe deal. What’s more, Reebok’s deal was actually worth $100 million in total — the $10 million cashier’s check was just an initial “down payment.”

Unfortunately, Reebok — at the behest of record label executive Steve Stoute, who was consulting with the athletic company at the time — made a critical error: they told James that he’d only receive a bonus if he’d signed with them.

“Even Nike and Adidas would have understood him saying yes. It was the type of offer you probably shouldn’t say no to,” reported the outlet.

Obviously, however, Lebron James said “no.”

Why Lebron James Signed With Nike

Lebron James wanted to play the long game, and in 2003, The Beacon Journal reported that he’d signed a seven-year contract with Nike.

This contract was worth $90 million.

And when it was combined with his estimated $12 million contract with the NBA, it made him the highest-paid player in the NBA.

While the initial deal with Nike was, on the surface, worth less than the initial deal offered by Reebok, James shifted the game again in 2016. At that time, he signed a “lifetime” contract with Nike — and according to Business Insider, the deal was worth more than $1 billion.