In a historic first for Black men in sports, LeBron James has become the first NBA player to earn $1 billion — reaching the milestone while still actively playing in the NBA.
Victoria Moorwood of Revolt.TV has reported that the news comes following James’ leading role in the new film Space Jam: A New Legacy, which he starred in and produced. During its opening weekend, the film took in more than $31 million at the U.S. box office, despite the ongoing pandemic and still-limited theater attendance in some areas.
According to Moorwood, “James has earned $330 million in his playing salary alone since being drafted in 2003” and “reportedly made another $700 million off the court through endorsement deals, merchandise, licensing and his media production company, SpringHill Co.”
Moorwood reported that the 36-year-old athlete’s endorsement deals, including partnerships with AT&T (a DiversityInc Hall of Fame Company), Beats Electronics, Blaze Pizza, GMC, Nike, PepsiCo (a DiversityInc Noteworthy Company), Rimowa and Walmart (No. 22 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021), garner him over $100 million every year.
“The Los Angeles Lakers star is also the first active player in a U.S. team sport to hit the monetary milestone,” she said.
With his current earnings, James has also topped all-time NBA great Michael Jordan, who is now worth more than $2 billion but wasn’t able to crack the $1 billion mark while playing in the NBA, despite his highly lucrative Jordan Brand sneakers deal with Nike.
Based on estimates of his current earnings, Moorwood reported that James now joins “a lofty tier of athletes who have made $1 billion while active, including Tiger Woods, Floyd Mayweather, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Roger Federer.”