The overall net worth of LeBron James is estimated at an insane $400 million, per Celebrity Net Worth, with the four-time NBA league MVP and three-time NBA champion raking in an estimated $86 million in 2017 alone, according to Forbes. All told, between LeBron James’ annual salary plus endorsements and other business ventures, the future Hall of Famer, and potential greatest player of all-time, will never be short on cash.
That said, while the net worth of LeBron James has the potential to reach over $1 billion — led by a lifetime Nike contract he signed a couple of years ago — we had to ask a simple question: How much is LeBron James really worth to an NBA franchise? After signing a four-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency earlier this summer, LeBron James will only see both his net worth and the valuation of the franchise he signs with increase. So, we dived into some of the numbers to see exactly what LeBron brings to a franchise; well, other than eight-straight years (and counting) of NBA Finals’ trips.
To help get the answer we’re looking for, we headed over to Statista.com to do a little research on things, first checking in on the valuation of both the Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat, the two NBA teams LeBron James has ever played for.
As we all know, LeBron left the Cavs in 2010 to famously, “take his talents to South Beach,” where he spent four-straight seasons with the Heat, winning two NBA titles. He then returned to the Cavs in the summer of 2014, and, since then, has guided the franchise to its only NBA title in team history, while enjoying a trip to the NBA Finals in each of his four years back. Here’s what Statista showed as the valuations of the Cleveland Cavs from 2003 – 2010 (James’ first go-round with the franchise), as well as the Miami Heat from 2010 – 2014, and, finally, how the Cavs’ have fared since his return in ’14.
Cleveland Cavs Valuation (2003 – 2010)
Miami Heat Valuation (2011 – 2014)
Cleveland Cavs Valuation (2014 – 2018)
As the graphs above show, LeBron James brings a hell of a lot of financial impact to an NBA team. Not only did the Cavs see a rise in valuation from the first time he was there — going from $222 million in 2003 to $476 million by 2010 — but, then again in 2014 upon his return, taking the team valuation from $515 million in 2014 to topping $1.3 billion this season. Of course, that’s not all LeBron James, with the NBA receiving a ton of money from a new TV deal worth $24 billion over nine years that began during 2016 season, impacting the value of all franchises, but, because fans wants to watch superstars like LeBron on a nightly basis, one can argue that he helped snag such a deal for the league.
More than just the net worth of LeBron James on a franchise is the impact he brings to an entire community. Just ask the city of Cleveland how one man — “the chosen one,” to paraphrase his now famous Sports Illustrated article from 2002 while in high school — can effect an entire city to thrive; even one as big as Los Angeles.
According to a 2017 study from the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), LeBron James brings more money to a major city than one could imagine. That’s because, per the research, James’ return to Ohio increased the number of restaurants and bars within one mile of the Cavs’ arena by 13 percent, leading to a 23.5 percent increase in employment for those establishments. In summary, here’s how the AEI described the superstar’s impact on Cleveland’s economy, per Vox:
“We find that Mr. James has a statistically and economically significant positive effect on both the number of restaurants and other eating and drinking establishments near the stadium where he is based, and on aggregate employment at those establishments… These effects are very local, in that they decay rapidly as one moves farther from the stadium.”
In general, where LeBron thrives, businesses thrive. But other companies aren’t the only ones who are gaining big from LeBron. For instance, proclaiming that he’s more than an athlete — a slogan established for one of LeBron James’ business ventures, Uninterrupted — the three-time NBA champ has also built quite the business portfolio of his own.
LeBron James Business Ventures
As mentioned above, LeBron James has proclaimed himself to be more than an athlete, and some of LeBron’s business ventures have become multi-million dollar companies. From the aforementioned Uninterrupted platform to his investor stake in the fast casual pizza chain, Blaze Pizza — which has earned him a reported $35 million, per SB Nation — LeBron has earned a reputation as a businessman.
In his most recent, and most important, business venture, LeBron James opened a public elementary school for kids in Akron, Oh. as part of his I Promise program. The school opened on July 30th, with 240 third and fourth graders being the first to attend. It will eventually expand to include grades 1-8.
— I PROMISE School (@IPROMISESchool) July 30, 2018
The I Promise school was an idea of LeBron James’ years ago, with it serving as a major influence on kids after he missed 83 days of school as a fourth-grader. His hope is to avoid any kid doing the same.
In addition to the I Promise school, some of LeBron James’ business ventures include:
- A rumored lifetime, potentially $1 billion contract with Nike
- Ownership stake in Beats By Dre headphones
- Minority ownership stake with the English Premier League’s Liverpool FC
- Ownership in LRMR Management, an athlete marketing and management company with his childhood friends, which operates Klutch Sports Agency
One could argue that, based off of how LeBron James has shown to impact both the overall valuation of a franchise and the local economy — which is quantitated through ticket sales, merchandise and sponsorships, as well as by local shops showing Cavs games — the net worth of LeBron James for a NBA team exceeds nearly $400 million annually. That’s quite the impact of just one man.
Between LeBron James’ business ventures and his overall impact on the local economy, it’s good to understand just how much revenue will pile up from LeBron doing nothing but donning a Lakers jersey each season. It’s really good to be him.
Lead image via Getty