When LeBron James and Nike inked a lifetime endorsement deal at the end of 2015, the terms of the deal were never reported.
We always knew that it would be a big number. Not only had Nike never agreed to a lifetime deal before, but at the time of the news ESPN’s Darren Rovell (who first broke the story) also reported that James’ new deal would “easily surpass” the 10-year, $300 million deal Kevin Durant signed with Nike in 2014.
This led to speculation that the number attached to the deal could be north of $30 million per year. Over the remainder of James’ life, this would put the figure in the ballpark of $1 billion.
On Tuesday, Maverick Carter — James’ longtime business partner — appeared to tell GQ that the figure was, in fact, north of $1 billion.
In an exchange with GQ writer Mark Anthony Green, Carter said he wouldn’t give the exact figure. But when Green pushes and says he’d heard $1 billion, Carter coyly says nothing. But his gesture gives it away.
Here’s the exchange:
How much was the deal for?
I can’t say.
Come on, Mav! Can you ballpark it?
What are people saying?
Kanye said a billion. So a billion.
[Maverick smiles and points one finger skyward.]
Yeah. 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.
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard $1 billion attached to James and Nike. But it’s certainly the closest thing we’ve gotten to confirmation, and from James’ oldest friend, too.
James has already made $169 million in salaries, and reportedly makes around $44 million annually in endorsements. With the behemoth Nike deal, James is well on his way to becoming the richest athlete of all-time.
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