LeBron James has publicly admitted he is chasing the ghost that played in Chicago, trying to become the universally recognized basketball GOAT. But there's another ghost of MJ he's chasing. LeBron is building his empire, trying to surpass Mike as the richest individual who ever laced 'em up. It turns out he's closer than ever.
The 36-year-old has a net worth of approximately $500 million. Earning roughly $100 million a year, both on and off the court, James is closing the gap on Jordan, who, two decades into his retirement, has a net worth of around $2.2 billion, making him the richest basketball player on the planet. And he's far from done, but so is LeBron.
According to Spotrac, James has made around $340 from his NBA contracts alone. When it's all set and done, he'll have made more than $400 million in basketball earnings, and that's all just from the on-the-court stuff. He's doing an even better job outside of NBA arenas.
So far, James has dozens of endorsements deals with the likes of Microsoft, State Farm, Coca-Cola, Samsung, Baskin Robbins, etc. Other than being the endorser for Beats by Dre, James also owns 1% of the company, a share he negotiated back in 2008. The company was bought by Apple for around $2.6 billion in cash and $400 million in stock, with LBJ taking home $30 million from the deal.
Despite all the deals LeBron has going on for him, his biggest source of income off the court remains his endorsement deal with Nike. James officially became the face of Nike at the age of 18. In 2015 he signed a lifetime endorsement deal with the company, worth around $30 million a year, meaning that LBJ's Nike deal will bring him a figure north of $1 billion over the remainder of his life.
King James is known for bringing his inner circle into his various businesses. The Four Horsemen, as the group likes to call themselves, has helped the superstar grow his brand, with Maverick Carter being James' right hand in terms of his business decisions. The group founded the LRMR Marketing & Branding firm, creating partnerships between iconic athletes, performers, and brands, becoming the nucleus of James' brand management.
LeBron and Maverick Carter are the co-founders of the production company SpringHill Entertainment, a company that creates compelling stories for television, features, and digital. Their biggest project, the long-awaited sequel of MJ's hit "Space Jam: A New Legacy" is set to be released mid-July. The Shop continues to be a very popular TV series, with LeBron, other athletes, musicians, and celebrities debate on different barbershops around the country. The company has also created very popular documentary pieces, such as "Shut Up & Dribble," "Student Athlete," and "What's My Name: Muhammad Ali."
James also has his fingers in the food industry, after he decided to invest in a Blaze Pizza back in 2012. James went all-in with Blaze Pizza after he walked away from a $15 million deal with McDonald's in 2017. In 2017, his stake in the business was worth at least $40 million. It's hard to assume what it is today, as Blaze Pizza continues to be one of the fastest-growing restaurant chains ever.
Being the sports fan he is, LeBron decided to go out of his way and invest in a soccer team. His involvement with FC Liverpool began in 2011, as he first acquired the 2% in the club, estimated to be worth around $6.5 million at the time. Today, Liverpool's value is at approximately $2.18 billion. You do the math. It was an investment well worth.
So is everything James gets involved in. That's why, when it comes to the list of the NBA's wealthiest, he's getting closer and closer to the ghost from Chicago. And unlike the GOAT conversation, that's something no one can argue against.
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