Nike-sponsored NBA star Lebron James has become the first active player whose fortune exceeds $1 billion ($1.3 billion).
The four-time champion (pictured above) has earned more than $167 million in the last year alone, thanks to his contract with the Los Angeles Lakers and his endorsements with Nike and other companies. It was the second highest amount of any other athlete throughout the year, with Paris Saint-Germain and Argentine soccer star Lionel Messi topping the list, with the adidas-sponsored footballer approaching the amount of $180 million.
The LA Lakers superstar is now worth $1.6 billion ($1.2 billion), a goal he set for himself some time ago.
“I want to maximize my business,” James told GQ in 2014. “And if I happen to get it, if I happen to be a billion dollar athlete, ho. Hip Hip Hooray! Oh my God. I’m going to be excited.
Besides being a very successful basketball player (and the second all-time leading scorer in the NBA!), Lebron is also heavily involved in the business sector. In fact, according to Forbes, nearly $670 million of Lebron’s net worth comes from his investments.
Apart from his life with Nike, James is the co-founder of production company SpringHill (which made the movie he starred in, Space Jam 2: A New Legacy), he owns shares in the restaurant chain Blaze Pizza and he is co-owner of the Fenway Sports Group, which includes, among others, football club – and UEFA Champions League finalists – Liverpool FC
James last year sold a minority stake in SpringHill, valued at nearly $1 billion, to a consortium of investors including Nike, Epic Games, Redbird Capital Partners and Fenway Sports Group.
The 37-year-old, who just completed his 19th year as a professional NBA player, first signed with Nike in 2015 for the breakthrough fee of $1.3 billion. Besides the Lakers, Lebron is also a former Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat player.