LeBron James is now officially a billionaire

LeBron James has become the first active NBA player to be named a billionaire by Forbes magazine.

The business magazine estimated that the 37-year-old is the world’s second highest-paid athlete behind footballer Lionel Messi.

James earned $121.2m (approximately £97m) over the last year, with $80m (£64m) of it coming off the basketball court.

The magazine said the Los Angeles Lakers star has “maximised his business, to the tune of more than $1.2bn [£954m] in pretax earnings”.

“He has commanded more than $385m [£306m] in salary from the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers as the NBA’s highest-paid active player. Off the court, he has raked in upwards of $900m [£716m] in income from endorsements and other business ventures,” the report pointed out.

James is an 18-time NBA all-star, four-time NBA champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist, it said.

His deals with Nike and other brands like AT&T, PepsiCo and Walmart last year had made him the second-highest earning athlete in the world.

A deal with television and movie studio SpringHill Entertainment has been valued by Forbes at around $300m (£239m).

The studio helped produce the movie Space Jam: A New Legacy, in which James starred.

The movie earned $163m (£130m) in box office receipts worldwide.

Forbes said that the “real key” to James’ billion-dollar fortune was that he is more than “just a pitchman”.

“James has long structured deals to give him equity in brands he partners with, giving him a cut of the upside instead of a quick paycheck,” the report said.

It added that James had “walked away” from an endorsement agreement with McDonald’s estimated at $15m (£12m) over four years so he could “gamble on the fast-growing Blaze Pizza chain, where he’s an investor”.

The athlete also has equity in gym company Tonal and rideshare giant Lyft, the report pointed out.

Former NBA star Michael Jordan had also made the Forbes billionaires list, but only in 2014, a decade after he retired.

In March, James took the second spot in the NBA’s list of all-time scorers. He currently has 37,062 points, behind only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who has scored 38,387 points.

In an interview with GQ in 2014, James said he had long dreamt of becoming a billionaire.

“It’s my biggest milestone,” he was quoted as saying.

“Obviously I want to maximise 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.”

#badjourno #twistednews

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