How Does LeBron Become A Billionaire?

There was no way to avoid the news this past week that LeBron James decided he was coming home to Northeast Ohio to return to playing basketball for the Cleveland Cavaliers.    It has been widely shared in the news that LeBron James wants to become the first billionaire athlete.   Is this gutsy move actually designed with the thought in mind to win championships or created in the next set of career moves to forge the path to becoming a billionaire?

“It’s my biggest milestone,” he says in a story with GQ. “Obviously. 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.” (source: GQ)

With a reported $250 million dollar net worth, (source: just what smart money moves does LeBron need to do to get himself to a billion dollar net worth.

  1. Win Just One Championship In Cleveland- He likely won’t catch Kobe or Michael for number of championships, but considering the City of Cleveland hasn’t won a title in 50 years, just one title will leave a permanent legacy and will carry tons of financial weight in the state of Ohio.  One championship means big bucks now and down the road.
  2. Make The Right Strategic Endorsements For Ownership- LeBron currently has endorsement deals with dozens of companies including McDonalds, Microsoft, State Farm, Beats by Dre, Coca-Cola, Dunkin-Donuts, Baskin Robbins Samsung, Nike and more. In addition to endorsing Beats by Dre, LeBron also owned 1% of the company. He earned royalty payments totaling $1 million during his years a spokesman and when the company sold to Apple for $3 billion, LeBron took home $30 million.  Endorsers never penalized him for living in Cleveland, but getting percentage ownership in hip cutting edge products where he can cash out will be big.
  3. Re-Up For More Money In Two Years- By waiting for the upcoming changes in the salary cap and signing only a two year deal, it will make sense to stay put and then do a long term deal in Cleveland for a maximum package that will likely be in the $150,000,000 range.  With young guys around him, could he stretch almost another decade of cash from playing basketball?  However, he will get hit with extra taxes living in Ohio vs. living in Florida.
  4. Create LeBron Incubators- Many states, including Georgia, have successfully built out strategies to grow the film/movie business.  Others, have created tax incentives to create incubators for design and technology companies.   If LeBron can use his superstardom to create new industries to replace the old dilapidated business in Northeast Ohio that could mean big long term bucks for him.  Cleveland was the capital of Fortune 500 companies at one time.
  5. Don’t Have A Meltdown- At the age of just turning 30, as long as he doesn’t have some major personal meltdown or scandal, every 7 to 10 years his net worth should double even without a big hit.   That means becoming a billionaire should be possible just by playing defense.  However, LeBron wants to make this happen before he stops playing basketball.

Will LeBron become the first billionaire athlete?  Only time will tell, but it seems like this move was his chess move to solidify his legacy and create everlasting wealth.

Written by: Ted Jenkin
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About the author  ⁄ Ted Jenkin @ Your Smart Money Moves

Ted Jenkin @ Your Smart Money Moves


My friends and family all think I’m a workaholic, but I say I’m just a guy that loves to help people do better in life.

My mother is still the only one that calls me by my real name Theodore Michael, my wife calls me Teddy, but for the rest of you it is just plain old Ted.

Ever since I was a little kid, I always loved money and being an entrepreneur. In fact, I still have cassette tapes of me talking to my grandmother at the age of five and my mother tells me all the time how much I played with money as a kid...

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Ted Jenkin is a frequent guest columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Headline News Weekend Express. He is the co-CEO of oXYGen Financial. You can follow him on LinkedIn @ or on Twitter @tedjenkin.

Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS. oXYGen Financial is not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS. Kestra IS and Kestra AS do not provide tax or legal advice.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by Kestra Investment Services, LLC or Kestra Advisory Services, LLC. This is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual. It is suggested that you consult your financial professional, attorney, or tax advisor regarding your individual situation. 

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