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LeBron James Becomes First Active NBA Player To Reach Billionaire Status

LeBron James is now the NBA’s first billionaire athlete, Sportico reported.

“James is the first player in a U.S. team sport to hit the three-comma club,” Sportico’s Kurt Badenhausen reported.

According to the outlet, the Lakers star has accumulated $330 million in playing salary and $700 million from off-court endorsements and business deals.

The 36-year-old’s current endorsement partners include AT&T, Beats, Blaze Pizza, GMC, Nike, PepsiCo, Rimowa and Walmart, which increases the star’s annual earnings by $100 million. The latest addition to his portfolio is Epic Games, where Fortnite players will have access to a pair of James-themed outfits or “skins.”

James is now the first NBA player in history to reach the billionaire mark while still playing in the league. Michael Jordan was on track to seven-figures during his career, but was unable to before he retired. His total earnings, however, are over $2 billion.

In a 2014 interview with GQ, James discussed his hopes and dreams for the future, mentioning that becoming a billionaire would be a huge accomplishment.

“If it happens. It’s my biggest milestone. Obviously,” he told GQ. “I want to maximize 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.” GQ 

As Blavity previously reported, James was on his way to achieving billionaire status when he acquired a stake in the Boston Red Sox via Fenway Sports Group (FSG) earlier this year. FSG is worth an estimated $6 billion, according to CNBC. 

When asked about how he’s able to invest money so strategically, James replied that saving was instilled in him as a child by his family members. 

“If they gave me a dollar, they’d be like, ’Nephew, just spend 35 cents of it and keep the other 65,’”James said during a 2018 interview on Chase Bank’s Kneading Dough podcast, Marketwatch reported. “So I’m [now] always in my head about saving.” 

James’ business moves have even garnered the attention of billionaire Warren Buffet, who says the basketball player has a “money mind.”

“People really do have minds that function better than other people’s in certain areas that you can’t give a test for,” Buffett told USA TODAY Sports. “And LeBron, in addition to a lot of other talents, he has a money mind. And he gets stuff.”

“He can separate out the cream from the crap, and you get more of the latter proposed to you than you do of the former,” he continued.

The Ohio native’s most recent business venture is producing and starring in the new film, Space Jam: A New Legacy, which surpassed the Marvel movie starring Scarlett Johansson, Black Widow, at the box office, BBC reported. The film is a sequel to the 1996 original starring Michael Jordan and features Zendaya, Kyrie Irving, Michael B. Jordan and more.  

According to The Province, the only other athletes to earn $1 billion while still actively playing are Tiger Woods, Floyd Mayweather, tennis player Roger Federer and soccer stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.