LeBron James’ move this week to buy a professional pickleball team is unlikely to weigh heavily on his pocketbook.
The star of the Los Angeles Lakers became a billionaire earlier this year due to his combination of real estate, sports team ownership and numerous sponsorship and endorsement deals, according to a Forbes estimate that put his net worth at $1.2 billion. This milestone is one that James has been working towards for nearly a decade. In an interview with GQ in 2014, he said he was working to maximize his business ventures and would be excited to one day reach the billion dollar mark.
James’ endorsements and business ventures have brought in an estimated $900 million, Forbes estimates. Then there’s basketball. James, who will begin his 20th NBA season next month, has played for three teams and earned a combined $385 million on the floor, Forbes reported. Most recently, he signed a two-year, $97.1 million contract with the Lakers in a deal that made him the NBA’s highest-paid player in history, according to Bloomberg.
James, 37, is estimated by Forbes to be the second-highest-paid athlete in the world behind Paris Saint-Germain’s Lionel Messi.
The unnamed Major League Pickleball team isn’t James’ first foray into sports ownership. Buy a share in the British football club Liverpool FC in 2011 and also is a co-owner of the Boston Red Sox. Those investments represent about $90 million of his net worth, Forbes said.
James said he aspires to own an NBA team a day, which would also add to his wealth. However, James cannot do so until he retires from the league.
According to Sportico, James has a long list of corporate endorsements, including AT&T, Crypto.com, GMC, Pepsi, Rimowa and Walmart. In 2015 he signed a lifetime endorsement contract with Nike, with whom James had signed a $90 million contract shortly before graduating from high school.
James also once served as a spokesperson for Blaze Pizza and even starred in commercials promoting the pizzeria. He now has a 10 percent ownership stake in the company, which added $30 million to his net worth, Forbes reported.
Among his other assets, James owns a TV and film production company called SpringHill, which he started in 2020 with business partner Maverick Carter. The company helped produce the animated film Space Jam 2, in which James starred. SpringHill also produces a show for HBO Max called “The Shop: Uninterrupted” that James occasionally hosts. Nike, Epic Games and other companies invested in SpringHill last October, helping to push the production company’s valuation to about $725 million.
Forbes also estimates that James owns three homes worth around $80 million — a mansion in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, another estate in Beverly Hills, California, and a third home in Los Angeles.