LeBron James is a basketball legend who has set numerous athletic records, but he has now joined the ranks of America’s billionaires, which is one of the most coveted financial achievements. According to Forbes, which ranks the wealth of athletes, celebrities, and business people, the 37-year-old Los Angeles Lakers star is the first active NBA player to become a billionaire. While basketball legend Michael Jordan is a billionaire, Forbes points out that he didn’t achieve that status until years after he retired from the game.
Out of the nation’s 330 million residents, there are an estimated 700 billionaires in the U.S. — including the likes of Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos and Tesla CEO Elon Musk. James built his wealth not only through his NBA earnings, but careful investments in property and businesses, which have given him ownership stakes in valuable franchises such as the Fenway Sports Group, the owner of the Boston Red Sox.
James has long held the goal of becoming a billionaire, telling GQ in 2014 that it was his “biggest milestone.”
“I want to maximize my business,” he said at the time. “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.”
James parlayed his $385 million in earnings from the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers as well as $900 million in income from endorsements and other business ventures into a portfolio of investments and holdings, according to Forbes.
Here’s how the publication breaks down James’ milestone wealth.
Cash and investments: More than $500 million
This is the biggest portion of James’ wealth, according to Forbes, which notes that his lifestyle carries big expenses for staff and employees such as agents, managers and lawyers.
These investments stem from stakes in Beats by Dre, which was sold to Apple for $3 billion in 2014, and shares in Beachbody, which in 2020 acquired the sports nutrition company that James co-founded with Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The SpringHill Company: $300 million
The SpringHill Company is actually three businesses under one roof, including James’ Robot Company marketing agency and SpringHill Entertainment, which has backed movies such as “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” which James stars in.
Last year, he sold a stake in the business to investors including Nike and Epic Games, giving the business a $725 million valuation, according to Forbes. James remains the largest single shareholder, although his current stake in the company is believed to be less than 50%, the publication added.
Fenway Sports Group: $90 million
James owns about 1% of Fenway Sports Group, the owner of the Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park and Liverpool F.C., the English Premier League soccer team, according to Forbes.
Real estate: $80 millon
By Forbes’ reckoning, James owns properties that together are worth $80 million. These include:
- A Beverly Hills mansion he bought for almost $37 million. He knocked down the existing home to build his own mansion, however.
- An 8-bedroom home in Los Angeles’ Brentwood neighborhood valued at $23 million.
- A $10 million mansion he built near his hometown of Akron, Ohio.
Blaze Pizza: $30 million
James reportedly paid less than $1 million for a 10% stake in the pizza chain in 2012, which has grown to more than 300 locations in North America, according to Forbes. His cut of the ownership is worth about $30 million, the magazine estimates.