LeBron James just landed the deal of a lifetime — literally — from Nike.
The Cleveland Cavaliers star recently signed a lifetime deal with the apparel and shoe company that was finally revealed to be worth upwards of a billion dollars, according to a recent interview in GQ with LeBron James’ long-time business manager, Maverick Carter.
While Maverick Carter would not say an exact figure, the business manager for LeBron James hinted that the lifetime deal signed in December 2015 was worth more than a billion dollars by pointing a finger “skyward” when asked if the deal was worth at least $1 billion. The business executive also boasted that the deal was mutually beneficial for all parties later in the interview.
“It’s a fantastic deal. Nike feels great about the deal. That’s the most important thing. As great as I feel, as great as LeBron feels—Nike feels fantastic about it. It’s the largest deal in the history of the company. Their hope is he makes even more. And our hope is that, too, obviously.”
Rumors of the lifetime deal’s price tag started shortly after LeBron James inked the deal with Nike. Bleacher Report recapped some of the rumors, starting with USA Today‘s Sam Amick first suggesting via Twitter in December that estimates in the $400-500 million range were quite low.
According to Sports Illustrated, James has been with Nike since before being selected as the top overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft. That first deal was for seven years and $90 million, the magazine reported. The lifetime deal LeBron James signed with Nike is considered the largest single-athlete contract in the company’s history. Paul Wachter, who helped sell Beats by Dre to Apple for $3 billion, was a part of the negotiations for the deal worth more than a billion dollars.
Having positive negotiations for the lifetime deal with Nike was important to both Maverick and LeBron for more reasons than just the billion dollars to be made from the proposed partnership, Carter explained:
“If you go into the negotiation like, ‘I’m gonna get every dollar, every piece of real estate—I’m just gonna take this guy’s [expletive] pants off,’ you may be able to do that once, maybe twice, but after that, people aren’t going to want to do business with you. When you’re negotiating something like the Nike deal, it’s gonna last a lifetime, literally. The minute this negotiation’s over, we’re gonna work with these people every day. So you don’t want to leave them with a bad feeling.”
It wasn’t as if LeBron needed the billion-dollar deal to secure his financial future. According to one celebrity site that assesses stars’ net worth, James was worth $300 million entering 2016, having earned over $120 million in NBA salary payments alone. The website indicated that LeBron currently has endorsement deals with dozens of companies, such as McDonalds, Microsoft, State Farm, Beats by Dre, Coca-Cola, Dunkin-Donuts, Baskin Robbins, Samsung, and Nike.
Yahoo! Style put the financial details of the lifetime deal into a unique perspective. With the billion dollars LeBron James is set to earn from Nike, the superstar athlete could afford to purchase the team he currently plays for — the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The deal also easily eclipses what was thought to be the highest-paying relationship between Nike and a basketball star. That deal was with Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant for approximately $300 million, or less than 30 percent of what the sportswear giant is willing to pay LeBron James for his lifetime deal.
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