LeBron James became the first active NBA player to become a billionaire. He's earned $346 million from NBA contracts and $700 million from his off-court investments.
Here are eight of LeBron's best investments:
At the age of 18, LeBron was handed a $10 million check by then Reebok CEO Paul Fireman. The only stipulation? LeBron couldn't talk to Nike or Adidas if he took the check.
Here's a quote from LeBron on his mindset from Uninterrupted's Kneading Dough:
I started thinking... if he's willing to give me a $10 million check now, what if Nike or Adidas is willing to give me 20 or 30?
A few months later, LeBron signed with Nike for $90 million. In 2016, Nike and LeBron agreed to a lifetime extension worth $1 billion.
2. Beats By Dre
Prior to its launch in 2008, Beats needed to drum up publicity and excitement. How'd they do this? Sending LeBron James 15 sets of headphones at the 2008 Olympics.
When LeBron and the rest of the US National basketball team got off the bus in Paris, it went viral. Later that year, Beats first release sold out.
As a "silent investor," LeBron made $30 million when Apple acquired Beats in 2016.
3. Liverpool FC
LeBron invested $6.5 million for 2% of Liverpool in 2011. Since then:
- Premier League 2019 champs
- Champions League 2019 champs
In April 2021, Forbes valued Liverpool at $4.1 billion, meaning LeBron's stake would be worth $80 million. However, in March 2021, he parlayed that stake into an ownership role at Fenway Sports Group (FSG).
FSG is the parent company of both the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool FC, among other sports teams. With his stake in FSG, LeBron still owns part of Liverpool. But now he's added several more professional sports teams to his investment portfolio.
Notably, FSG does not own an NBA team. If LeBron wants to own an NBA team one day, FSG is the perfect organization to make that a reality.
4. Blaze Pizza
LeBron's most famous investment is wild. Look at Blaze's revenue numbers over the past 10 years:
- 2012: $800k
- 2013: $5m
- 2014: $33m
- 2015: $100m
- 2016: $185m
- 2017: $280m
- 2018: $340m
- 2019: $400m
As of 2017, LeBron's initial $1 million investment was worth $35 million. Now? Well, the number isn't public, but based on revenue growth and current multiples, it's likely doubled.
LeBron left a $15 million endorsement deal with McDonald's to invest in Blaze Pizza. In addition to the equity, LeBron owns 19 Blaze Pizza franchises across the US.
Backed by more than $15 million in investment in 2014, Uninterrupted got off the ground quickly. It produces:
- The Shop (HBO)
- Shut Up & Dribble
- Kneading Dough
Now, Uninterrupted rolls into a new venture of LeBron's...
6. SpringHill Entertainment
LeBron James and Maverick Carter founded SpringHill Entertainment in 2020. The company's been on a tear:
- Space Jam 2 ($135 million box office, $75 million in merchandise)
- Naomi Osaka docuseries (on Netflix)
Nike was rumored to be interested in acquiring the company at a $750 million valuation.
7. Lobos 1707 Tequila
LeBron invested in Lobos 1707 in late 2020 after trying it in both Italy and... Ohio. Here's what he said about the decision:
If it tasted great in Akron, Ohio, then I know it's the right thing. I had to make sure it wasn't the boat in Italy getting me.
After Ryan Reynolds, Conor McGregor, and George Clooney founded or invested in tequila and whiskey brands and made hundreds of millions (a billion for Clooney), the Lobos 1707 investment could be a homerun for LeBron.
Plus, he brings it courtside:
8. I Promise
LeBron founded the "I Promise" program in Akron, Ohio in 2011. In June 2021, the program's inaugural class of 133 graduated high school. Each student was offered free tuition to Kent State or Akron University.
The program was so successful, LeBron founded the "I Promise" school in 2018.
- 1,300 students
- Each guaranteed a college scholarship if they do their part
With this investment, LeBron is changing lives in his hometown.
All this can't happen without LeBron's business team.
- Maverick Carter
- Rich Paul
- Randy Mims
Legends in their own right.