You may have seen a Forbes article on the internet yesterday in which LeBron James was “officially” named a billionaire.
Hundreds of respected news outlets, ranging from ESPN to the Wall Street Journal, have repeated the allegation in the 24 hours since it was published. We at Celebrity Net Worth have gotten over a hundred emails and DMs in the last 24 hours demanding that we either alter our information or explain why we believe the Forbes article is incorrect. So let’s get started…
Is LeBron James truly worth a billion dollars?
LeBron James is not a billionaire right now, in our opinion (and we’ve been following his net worth longer than any other outlet). LeBron’s net worth is now estimated to be $600 million, which is a respectable sum but still a few hundred million short of the coveted three-comma athlete club.
There are four billionaire athletes on the earth,
Michael Jordan is the richest person in the world, with a net worth of $2.2 billion (NBA legend, no explanation needed)
Vince McMahon is ranked second with a net worth of $1.8 billion (WWE legend, no explanation needed)
Ion Tiriac ($1.2 billion) is ranked third (Retired Romanian professional tennis player who parlayed his tennis earnings into an eastern European banking fortune)
4: Anna Kasprzak (Danish dressage rider whose grandfather established the Ecco boot firm) – $1 billion When Anna’s grandfather died in 2004, her mother acquired the majority of the business.)
With a net worth of $600 million, LeBron James is tied for the sixth position on the list, behind only Tiger Woods and Dwayne “The Rock Johnson, who both have net worths of around $800 million.
What does it take to become a billionaire in the NBA? There has been another billionaire NBA player, but Michael Jordan didn’t achieve billionaire status until a decade after his retirement. For LeBron to have hit billionaire status while still playing would be a next-level achievement.
Is LeBron James Billionaire?
The following buckets make up LeBron James’ billionaire status, according to Forbes:
His $300 million comes from his roughly 50% investment in SpringHill, a production firm that was valued at $725 million when it raised $100 million in 2020. This number does not bother me.
His $90 million comes from his 1% investment in John Henry’s Fenway Sports Group, which owns the Boston Red Sox, Liverpool F.C., the Pittsburgh Penguins, and 50% of Roush Fenway Racing. This number does not bother me.
$80 million in personal property… That basically corresponds to what we’ve seen on his net worth profile page, but it’s a moving target because we don’t know how much his homes are worth today as the real estate market falls. We also don’t know that after mortgage charges, he has $80 million in net equity in his multiple homes.
Blaze Pizza is a $30 million investment. Yes, why not?
When you add up the figures so far, you get $300 + 90 + 80 + $30 = $500 million. $500 million is a fairly even and rather convenient figure.
Forbes estimates that the next large piece of LeBron’s billion-dollar income will be:
“It’s expensive to live like LeBron, yet Forbes says LeBron James has more than a half-billion dollars in net assets beyond what’s shown above, even after accounting for managers, agents, lawyers, and a superstar’s spending habits.”
Forbes only mentions two investments in this vague half-billion-dollar asset pool:
1) The first is the $3 billion windfall he received when Apple bought Beats by Dre in 2014. As it turned out, LeBron owned about 1% of Beats by Dre. So that’s $30 million before taxes, and maybe $15-20 million after taxes.
2) The “shares of publicly traded fitness business Beachbody, which bought Ladder, the sports nutrition company James co-founded with Arnold Schwarzenegger, in December 2020 for $28 million in stock” is the other example cited.
Let’s say LeBron received $14 million in BeachBody shares as part of the Ladder sale in December 2020. In January 2021, Beachbody went public via SPAC, a month later. Beachbody stock began trading at a little more than $10 a share.
In mid-February, the shares of Beachbody briefly climbed above $14. Beachbody is currently trading at $2.12 per share as of today’s market closure (as I type this post on Thursday night, June 2, 2022).
Beachbody has been a complete dog with fleas of a stock, just like many of its SPAC counterparts. Since coming public, it has dropped by 80%.
If our estimate of LeBron obtaining approximately $14 million in Beachbody stock was right, those shares would be worth just under $3 million today.
Those are the only two instances presented to support a broad asset bucket of half a billion dollars. Obviously, LeBron has a lot of other valuable assets. So, what do you get for a half-billion dollars? A half-billion-dollar asset bucket that, when combined with a second half-billion-dollar asset bucket, yields a billion-dollar net value.