Here's How LeBron James Became the NBA's First Billionaire

LeBron James 2023

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King James, who helped his Los Angeles Lakers upend the Golden State Warriors on Friday, sending them to the Western Conference finals, isn't just the NBA's highest-paid player: He's also a savvy investor who scooped up millions from endorsement deals, the sports group that owns the Boston Red Sox, and a slew of real estate holdings. Here's how LeBron James came to be crowned by Forbes as the league's first active player to become a billionaire.

Key Takeaways

  • NBA All-Star Lebron James has a net worth of $1 billion, according to Forbes. 
  • James is currently the NBA’s highest-paid active player, earning over $431 million playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, and Los Angeles Lakers.
  • James is also a savvy businessman whose endorsements and investments earned him over $900 million in 2022, according to Forbes.

James earned more than $431 million in his two decades playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, and Los Angeles Lakers, according to Spotrac. Last August, he signed a two-year, $97 million contract extension with the Lakers, according to Deadline, pushing his earnings past $500 million and making him the highest-paid NBA player. Last year, he outranked by pay every professional athlete except soccer star Lionel Messi, according to Forbes. 

Forbes estimates that James has more than $500 million in cash and other investments, along with an $80 million real estate portfolio.

Here are the brands and businesses that made the NBA star his fortune.                                          

Brand Partnerships 

James’ partnerships with some of the world's biggest brands, including a 2015 lifetime deal with Nike and others with PepsiCo. and Walmart, have made him millions of dollars.  

He rakes in about $32 million a year from Nike, according to Forbes. Maverick Carter, James’ longtime business partner, told GQ that the deal is worth more than $1 billion. His endorsements and businesses earned him over $900 million in 2022, according to Forbes.


Lebron, 38, is also an investor in many of the brands with whom he works. Some of his most lucrative investments include: 

Beats by Dre

James was one of the earliest investors and ambassadors of the headphone brand Beats by Dre. He earned an estimated $30 million in cash and stock when the company was bought by Apple for $3 billion in 2014, according to Bleacher Report.

In 2020 on Dubs Talk: A Golden State Warriors Podcast, James’ former teammate Kendrick Perkins said James made $700 million by being a “silent investor” in Beats by Dre.

Blaze Pizza

James was one of Blaze Pizza’s founding investors and is the leading brand ambassador for the pizza chain. According to Forbes, James turned down a $15 million endorsement deal with McDonald’s to invest in Blaze Pizza.

Forbes estimates Lebron’s stake in the Blaze franchise is worth about $30 million. James and Carter’s initial investment in the company was less than $1 million, according to ESPN. The made-to-order pizza chain has stores all across the U.S. and Canada. 

SpringHill Company 

James and Carter founded their entertainment and production company, SpringHill, in 2020 with a $100 million investment, according to Bloomberg. In 2021, SpringHill sold a minority stake to a group of investors at a valuation of about $725 million, according to Forbes. The investors included RedBird Capital Partners, Fenway Sports Group, Nike, and Epic Games. James is still the largest single shareholder, according to Forbes, and estimates his stake to be worth $300 million. 

The production company has backed projects such as the film Space Jam: A New Legacy which starred James, a talk show called The Shop: Uninterrupted on YouTube, and Adam Sandler’s Netflix film, Hustle, among other film, television, and audio ventures. 

Fenway Sports Group 

In 2021, James and Carter traded their stakes in English Premier League soccer team Liverpool F.C. to become part owners of global sports, marketing, and real estate platform Fenway Sports Group. James owns an estimated 1% of FSG, valued at about $90 million, according to Forbes. Fenway Sports Group owns the Boston Red Sox, Liverpool Football Club, Fenway Park, 50% of NASCAR’s Roush Fenway Racing, and 80% of the New England Sports Network, among other assets.

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