Los Angeles Lakers’ superstar, LeBron James has become the first NBA player to become a billionaire while still actively playing.
Forbes‘ Chase Peterson-Withorn reported on Thursday, June 2, that James’ net worth surpassed the $1 billion mark after he earned $121.2 million in 2021.
According to Forbes, James is the highest-paid active player in the NBA, having earned more than $385 million in total salary from the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, and Los Angeles Lakers. The bulk of his worth comes via endorsements and business ventures totaling more than $900 million, including a lifetime deal with Nike that pays him tens of millions per year.
The four-time NBA champion was the second-highest paid athlete in 2021 behind soccer star Lionel Messi, earning $41.2 million from the Lakers and $80 million in off-the-court ventures.
LeBron in 2021 sold a minority stake in The SpringHill Company, his entertainment, and production company that was behind his movie “Space Jam: A New Legacy” which generated $162.9 million in worldwide sales, and his talk show “The Shop” which moved from HBO to YouTube – to a group of investors for what Forbes estimated to be $725 million.
An estimated breakdown of James’ fortune by Forbes shows he has a $300 million stake in SpringHill, where he remains the largest shareholder; $90 million in the Fenway Sports Group, which includes a minority stake in the Boston Red Sox, Liverpool F.C. and the Pittsburgh Penguins; $80 million in real estate. This includes homes in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and his hometown of Akron, Ohio; $30 million in Blaze Pizza, after a reported initial investment of less than $1 million; and more than $500 million in cash and other investments.
James, set to make $44.5 million next season in the second year of his two-year deal, has been selective in his investments, famously turning down massive offers from Reebok and Adidas as an 18-year-old to hold out for what proved to be a more lucrative deal with Nike.
In 2021, James confirmed his desire to become the owner of an NBA franchise.
“I got so much to give to the game. I know what it takes to win at this level. I know talent,” he told reporters. “I also know how to run a business as well. And so, that is my goal. My goal is to own an NBA franchise, and it will be sooner than later.”
If it happens, he’d be following in the footsteps of Michael Jordan, the owner of the Charlotte Hornets, who became the first NBA player to hit $1 billion in net worth after his on-court retirement.