LeBron James earns plenty with the Miami Heat, but he earns more than twice as much in endorsements.
The NBA star earned more in endorsements than the top 10 Major League Baseball players combined last year, according to Forbes.
James earned $17,545,000 last year on the court, according to Basketball-Reference.com. But off the court, the Heat star brought home an additional $42 million in endorsements, Forbes said. That eye-opening number dwarfed the competition from MLB, with Derek Jeter and Ichiro Suzuki leading the way at $3 million, according to Forbes.
James is currently locked into deals with companies such as Nike, Coca Cola, McDonald’s, Upper Deck, and Dunkin’ Donuts, according to Forbes. A good part of his endorsement money comes from the Nike deal at an estimated $15 million per, according to another report from Forbes. These type of mega shoe deals are more popular in the NBA than in other sports which accounts for some of the disparity between endorsements in the major sports.
Los Angeles Lakers star came in second in endorsement earnings last year, with a total of $34 million, Forbes said. A smaller number than James but still good enough to topple the top 10 MLB earners combined as well.
Bryant's player salary was much higher than James' at $27,849,149 according to his Basketball-Reference.com profile. The large salary difference is due in large part to the fact James took a discount to play in Miami with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
Winning two straight titles has only helped make James more marketable, but he has been a perennial big seller since joining the NBA in 2003 as Forbes pointed out. If James is able to complete a three-peat with Miami this year, he could see his endorsement dollars rise to an even more astronomical level next year.