That impressive haul trailed only megarich soccer icon Lionel Messi, who made $130 million, on Forbes’ highest-paid athletes list.
Although the Lakers struggled badly in 2021-22 and James was criticized by fans for failing to make the playoffs, he did become, at 37, the oldest player to average 30 points in a season (30.3 PPG), points out ESPN.
“King James” has been strategizing about how to reach billionaire status for years.
“I want to maximize my business,” James told GQ back in 2014. “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.”
James also starred in Space Jam: A New Legacy and sold a minority stake in his production company, SpringHill, at a $725 million valuation. SpringHill produced the Space Jam sequel, which grossed $163 million worldwide, reports ESPN.
The media company is also behind The Shop, which moved from HBO to YouTube last year, and a docuseries with tennis star Naomi Osaka. But perhaps their buzziest project is an upcoming remake of the classic 1990 hip-hop comedy, House Party.
James, who made more than $385 million in salary from his 19-year NBQ career with the Lakers, the Cavaliers and the Heat, has earned most of his billion-dollar bounty off the basketball court.
Here’s Forbes’ estimates for where James made the rest of his $1 billion:
• More than $500 million from cash and investments. Along with SpringHill, James made money from the sale of Beats by Dre to Apple in 2014 and has shares in fitness company Beachbody.
• $90 million from Fenway Sports Group. James was at one time a minority owner of Liverpool FC. He exchanged that for an estimated 1% ownership stake in Fenway Sports Group. The group owns Liverpool, Fenway Park, the Boston Red Sox and half of Roush Fenway Racing and recently agreed to spend $900 million to purchase the Pittsburgh Penguins.
• About $80 million in real estate holdings, including a $10 million mansion in Akron, Ohio, and two homes in the Los Angeles area for which James paid a combined $59.75 million.
• Interests in the food and beverage industry that include $30 million in pizza chain Blaze Pizza, which James bought a 10% stake in for less than $1 million in 2012.