Forbes said that the Los Angeles Lakers star has “maximized his business,” generating more than $1.2 billion in pretax earnings. His NBA salary from three different teams during the past 19 years has amounted to $383 million, and James has “raked in upwards of $900 million in income from endorsements and other business ventures,” the magazine said.
In addition to lucrative endorsement deals with Nike(NKE), AT&T(T), PepsiCo(PEP) and Walmart(WMT), Forbes said that James structured his deals to include equity in those brands, giving him a “cut of the upside instead of a quick paycheck.” The four-time NBA champion also has investments in fitness startup Tonal, ridesharing company Lyft and eatery upstart Blaze Pizza.
Another lucrative investment for James is TV and movie studio SpringHill Entertainment, which Forbes values at around $300 million. The studio helped produce “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” a movie he starred in that earned $163 million in box office receipts worldwide.
James has long dreamed of being a billionaire.
“It’s my biggest milestone,” he told GQ in a 2014 interview. “Obviously I want to maximize my business. 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 gonna be excited.”
Notably, Michael Jordan is the only other basketball billionaire on Forbes’ list. He didn’t achieve that until 2014, more than a decade after he retired.