Report: LeBron is first active NBA player to become billionaire

LeBron James

Call him LeBillionaire.

With $121.2 million in earnings last year, LeBron James has become the first active NBA player to become a billionaire, according to Forbes.

The 37-year-old, who just completed his 19th season in the league, is the second NBA star overall to join the three-comma club with a net worth exceeding $1 billion. He joins Michael Jordan, who did so in 2014, long after his playing career came to an end.

Per Forbes, James is the highest-paid active player in the NBA, having earned more than $385 million in total salary from the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers. The bulk of his worth comes via endorsements and business ventures totaling more than $900 million, including a lifetime deal with Nike that pays him tens of millions per year.

The four-time NBA champion was the second-highest paid athlete in 2021 behind soccer star Lionel Messi, earning $41.2 million from the Lakers and $80 million in off-the-court ventures.  

LeBron in 2021 sold a minority stake in The SpringHill Company - his entertainment and production company that was behind his movie "Space Jam: A New Legacy" which generated $162.9 million in worldwide sales and his talk show "The Shop" that moved from HBO to YouTube - to a group of investors for what Forbes estimated to be $725 million.


An estimated breakdown of James' fortune by Forbes shows he has a $300 million stake in SpringHill, where he remains the largest shareholder; $90 million in the Fenway Sports Group, which includes a minority stake in the Boston Red Sox, Liverpool F.C. and the Pittsburgh Penguins; $80 million in real estate, which includes homes in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and his hometown of Akron, Ohio; $30 million in Blaze Pizza, after a reported initial investment of less than $1 million; and more than $500 million in cash and other investments. 

James, set to make $44.5 million next season in the second year of his two-year deal, has been selective in his investments, famously turning down massive offers from Reebok and Adidas as an 18-year-old to hold out for what proved to be a more lucrative deal with Nike.

James missed the playoffs for just the fourth time in his career, but he now has one billion reasons not to care about his extended offseason, having reached a financial milestone he has long sought.

“If it happens, it’s my biggest milestone,” James told Forbes in 2014 of the possibility of becoming a billionaire. “Obviously, I want to maximize my business. And if I happen to get it, if I happen to be a billion-dollar athlete...Hip, hip, hooray! Oh, my God, I’m gonna be excited.”