LeBron James joins Michael Jordan as the only NBA billionaires

·3-min read

LeBron James is officially a billionaire. The Los Angeles Lakers star is worth an estimated $1 billion, according to Forbes, which makes him the first active NBA player to join the billionaire club.

The only other basketball player to be worth 10 figures is Michael Jordan, who earned that moniker 11 years after he retired when his stake in the Charlotte Hornets increased to 89.5 percent in 2014.

While James has earned more than $385 million in pretax salary during his 19-year NBA career, per Forbes, he accrued most of his wealth off the court through some savvy business moves over the past few years. Those investments helped him grow his net worth to the estimated $1 billion threshold he only recently crossed.

What's even more incredible is James manifested this milestone after saying he wanted to become a billionaire in a 2014 interview with GQ.

"If it happens. It’s my biggest milestone. 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."

Where LeBron made his money

Forbes broke down James' biggest revenue generators from his various endeavors:

The Spring Hill Company: $300 million: A combination of James' Robot Company marketing agency, athlete brand Uninterrupted and SpringHill Entertainment.

Fenway Sports Group: $90 million: James owns 1 percent of FSG, which itself owns the Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park and Liverpool Football Club. The group also has stakes in Roush Fenway Racing, the New England Sports Network and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Real Estate properties: $80 million: James owns at least three properties – in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and Akron, Ohio.

Blaze Pizza: $30 million: James invested $1 million for a 10 percent stake in 2012 before the company grew to more than 300 stores in the United States and Canada. He also personally owned 18 franchise stores in Florida and Illinois.

Miscellaneous investments: $500 million: Forbes estimates James has half a billion in other net assets that include other profitable investments like Beats by Dre, the sports nutrition company Ladder, Tonal and Lyft.

James' other pursuits

Becoming the first active billionaire basketball player isn't the only thing James is trying to accomplish in his life. He opened up an elementary school – I Promise – in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, through his LeBron James Family Foundation in 2018, and acted in multiple movies – one of which, Space Jam 2, was produced by his and Maverick Carter's production company.

James has also talked about owning his own NBA team since 2016, something that could happen sooner rather than later after Bill Simmons of The Ringer suggested Fenway Sports Group might be involved in the NBA's potential expansion teams.

Either way, LeBron James has cemented himself as one of the richest NBA players of all time, and he could eventually eclipse Jordan's estimated $1.7 billion net worth before his playing career even ends.

LeBron James' path to the billionaires club included a lot of savvy investments. (Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)
LeBron James' path to the billionaires club included a lot of savvy investments. (Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)
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