LeBron James is a Forbes billionaire — the first NBA star to do so while playing

LeBron James made the Forbes billionaires list.

The Los Angeles Lakers star has now earned more than $1 billion dollars between his on-court and off-court endeavors, according to the latest estimate from Forbes.

James has earned more than $385 million from his NBA contracts with the Lakers, Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat, the financial outlet reported on Thursday, and upwards of $900 million from various off-court deals like sponsorships, his media companies and investments.

Sportico, a media company covering the business side of sports, had already crowned King James a billionaire last year.

James is the first U.S. athlete in the four major sports to accumulate a billion dollars while still active in his or her sport. Michael Jordan is the only other known billionaire basketball player, but he crossed that threshold years after his playing days were over.

Golfer Tiger Woods, boxer Floyd Mayweather, and international soccer players Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have all earned at least $1 billion during their playing careers, according to CBS.

See also: Kobe Bryant made over $300 million playing basketball — here’s how he invested his money

Multi-million dollar sponsorships and endorsements over the years from companies like Coca-Cola
KO,
+0.43%,
McDonald’s
MCD,
-0.67%
and the Hyundai
HYMTF,
-0.52%
-owned Kia have all contributed to James’s fortune, but it was some savvy business moves that really boosted his portfolio.

In 2003, when LeBron James chose Nike over Rebook, he gave up $28 million. Shortly after that, Rebook folded its basketball program. But years later, Nike
NKE,
+2.68%
and James inked a lifetime contract for the basketball star that could exceed $1 billion (although the exact terms are not fully known).

James’s investments in English soccer club Liverpool F.C., the Apple
AAPL,
+1.20%
-owned Beats by Dre and fast food chain Blaze Pizza all have made him millions more off the court.

What’s more, his media companies Spring Hill and Uninterrupted have produced television shows for NBC and Starz, created a podcast network and partnered with Warner Bros. Studios on James’s latest movie, Space Jam: A New Legacy, which is the sequel to the movie Michael Jordan film from 1996. It made $31.7 million over its opening weekend.

See also: Tom Brady had made $475 million from the NFL before inking that $375 million analyst contract with Fox Sports

Who could be the next billion-dollar NBA star?

Kevin Durant appears the most likely. Durant has made $264 million playing basketball and has a roughly $300 million endorsement deal with Nike.

In combination with his venture capital investment firm Thirty-Five Ventures, Durant has made impressive early investments in companies such as Coinbase
COIN,
+8.13%,
Acorns, the Uber
UBER,
+7.26%
-owned Postmates.

This article was originally published in July 2021, when Sportico named LeBron James a billionaire. It has been updated with Forbes.

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