LeBron James is officially the first active NBA player to earn $1 billion.
According to a report from Sportico, James has earned a total of $330 million in playing salary since being drafted in 2003. Coupled with his $700 million in earnings from endorsement deals, merchandise, licensing and his media business, his total career earnings have reached the $1 billion mark.
His current endorsement partners include AT&T, Beats, Blaze Pizza, GMC, Nike, PepsiCo, Rimowa and Walmart, all of which bring in more than $100 million annually for James. The latest addition to the bunch is a Fortnite partnership that’s pushing for the Laker star to reach a new level of upper-echelon status for NBA players.
Sportico also reports that while NBA legend Michael Jordan far surpassed earning $1 billion — even $2 billion — this was achieved after his playing career ended, allowing James to be the man to make league history.
James is coming off a career high in the off-season after his new film “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” reportedly scored $32 million at the box office its opening weekend, according to Deadline. A movie that was seven years in the making for James arrives as the sequel to Jordan’s classic original film over two decades later.
Though Sportico shares that James is the first player in a U.S. team sport to reach the “10-figure touch,” they claim he “won’t be the last.” Other players in the league are also making their own moves to join the club as well. Like Brooklyn Nets player Kevin Durant, who the outlet predicts will be most likely to reach $1 billion among active players in the league.
It also shares that he’s expected to earn $84 million more from his current NBA team over the next two seasons as well as another $85 million from Nike through 2024 after his 10-year deal expires. He’s also made investments in companies like Goalsetter, Coinbase, Robinhood and Postmates. He even has his own venture capital firm that’s all about his business ventures in tech, sports and culture.
James is setting an example for a new generation of athletes, Black athletes in particular, to have the opportunity to make a fortune off of their name, image and likeness. Now that the rules are changing for groups like college athletes, we expect to see a lot more wealthy sports stars arise.