After leading the Miami Heat to 66 wins in the last regular season, LeBron James is looking to win his second NBA championship. He led the Heat to winning 27 games, was awarded an Olympic gold medal, and contributed another NBA MVP trophy to the team. With his salary from 2012 to 2013 being $17.5 million and a net worth of a cool $90 million mostly from his product endorsements, LeBron James is the year’s number one highest-earning athlete and the second highest paid athlete in the United States.
Flaunted as being the number one basketball player next to Michael Jordan brings certain monetary rewards to LeBron James as well, including being a highly coveted product endorser. Past endorsements include deals with McDonald’s, Samsung, Coca Cola, Dr. Pepper, Gatorade, Geico, Boys and Girls Club of America, and many more.
Miami Heat’s MVP
Even though he had a memorable departure from the Cavaliers, James’ addition to the Miami Heat resulted in the team getting 27 more times airplay on national television. It was also announced by the NBA that James’ jersey was the top-selling jersey for the year.
The value of Miami Heat has also increased significantly since James joined the team; as it’s currently at $625 million, up over 70%. While the team is currently being funded $930 million from television partners, that figure is expected to double, at least, when contracts are renewed in 2016. Since the team held the best record of the season, they’re getting a bonus of $347,947 based on the rules of the playoff. The winning NBA team is rewarded with $2,302,482 just to themselves, that makes it a total of $3,784,608 if the Miami Heat win the NBA title. Tradition states that the pot money is usually divided to the support staff, team officials, and of course, the players. However, there are also an additional 72 people who could earn shares from the win, so if the shares are equal these individuals could get as much as $52,564, including the big players, James, as well as his teammates Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade.
It’s also been speculated that the championship rings may even be worth more than the money the team is earning should they win the playoffs. In 2012, the team had a 14K white and gold ring encrusted with 219 diamonds.
James’ endorsements also go beyond mere money-making schemes for well-known brands; James also endorses charities that he supports. These include the Ronald McDonald House Charities, and the Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich, Connecticut. Back in 2010, when James made an important announcement that he became an unrestricted free agent, he did it through the broadcast of the Boys and Girls Club, which helped raise $2.5 million, leading to another $3.5 million in advertisements which he used to donate to other charities as well.
LeBron James is also an active philanthropist, also supporting other organizations including ONEXONE and the Children’s Defense Fund. He even created his own foundation, based in Akron, called the LeBron James Family Foundation which aims to raise money to support different causes by organizing biking marathons.
While he clearly supports charities that are close to his heart, he also uses his image to bring to light social issues. Back in 2008, he donated $20,000 to help a committee elect Barack Obama into office; and later on that year he organized a short advertisement viewing designed to boost public confidence in voting for Obama. James was also the first black man to ever grace the cover of Vogue, where he appeared in March 2008 alongside supermodel Gisele Bundchen.
James generally stays away from commenting or engaging in largely political situations, although in 2007 the spotlight was on him for not supporting a petition, which was started by his then-teammate in the Cavaliers, Ira Newble. The petition was about the alleged involvement of the Chinese government in Sudan, claiming he didn’t know enough about it to make a statement. By avoiding blindly signing onto a petition, it drew some negative criticism although he spoke out about the issue a year later, defending his position because it was dealing with people’s lives and not money or a contract.
NBA’s Biggest Endorser
In 2012, Nike earned $300 million in retail sales across the United States for LeBron’s signature shoes, up 50% from the 2011 sales. While Nike signed James in for a $90 million seven-year endorsement contract back in 2003, James also re-signed a contract with Nike in 2010 for an undisclosed figure. His current achievements see him earning another $50 million more in endorsements alone this year if he wins the NBA title.
Nike is also considered as the player’s most important marketing partner. Although his first Nike signature products got mixed reviews and had sluggish sales in the beginning, the LeBron VI was the one that catapulted Nike’s sales to millions; and was considered as finally “a good fit”. Last summer, it was announced that the LeBron X would be selling for over $300, because the shoes were embedded with new technology involving Nike sensors. The price caused a stir among fans. Nike states that aesthetics is the first aspect to consider when designing a shoe to be endorsed by LeBron; once a shoe looks great, the endorser’s status continues to expand which will help continually drive sales for the shoes all over the world. Since LeBron has more eyes on him now from the media than ever before, shoe sales are soaring.
LeBron is also earning an estimate of $20 million a year, which also includes royalties from other footwear brands he helps endorse. LeBron James’ popularity is strengthening as he’s signed new deals, including one for Dunkin Donuts, and the NBA2k14 game which is huge in China which will also be his first ever game cover. This will cement the star’s fan base in Asia, where some day he is even more popular than in the United States.
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