One of the most endorsement-savvy pro athletes, LeBron James has been rewarded for his keen business sense in the form of a $30 million profit from the sale of Beats Electronics to Apple.
According to ESPN, James signed a deal to get a small stake in the emerging company in 2008 in exchange for promoting the headphones. The sale to Apple was for $3 billion. In what is believed to be the biggest equity cash payout ever for a professional athlete, James made $11 million more from the Beats sale than he did by playing for the Heat this season.
James has been praised by the likes of Warren Buffett for his business sense. And even though he took less than a maximum contract to play for the Heat, his $53 million endorsement haul in the past year made him the third highest paid athlete in the world (he took in $72.3 million total). No athlete made more from sponsorships than the four-time NBA MVP, and only Cristiano Ronaldo and Floyd Mayweather recorded more in total earnings than James.
James' partnership with Beats has paid off in more than money. He's also honed his commercial presence in their spots and even supposedly upped his performance thanks to the company's cutting-edge technology.
The other interesting twist is that James has a big endorsement deal with Samsung, which is one of Apple's big competitors.
Moreover, Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein of ESPN note that James' huge Beats payday may provide him the peace of mind necessary to take less money on his next deal, a move that would allow the Heat to look into signing another superstar.