Asking Darren Rovell If and When LeBron James Will Be a Billionaire

Ryan Glasspiegel

ESPN sports business reporter Darren Rovell joined a brief podcast to talk about his scoop that LeBron James signed a “lifetime” deal with Nike. On the call, Rovell pegged the duration of the agreement at around (but not definitively) 20 years, and discussed some of what it pertains, how long it was in the works, and why now was the time to pull the trigger.

The conversation then shifted to whether, and on what time horizon, LeBron will ultimately join the Forbes billionaire list. “I think so,” Rovell answered. “And I think part of that is, like Magic and Kobe, he wants to be in business. He’s taught himself business, he knows the terms, he’s not just the guy who’s shaking hands when he walks into a room. Sometimes he’s actually impressed people with some of his terminology and understanding of business.”

Rovell brought up past business deals LeBron has been a part of, including receiving at least $30 million when Beats By Dre was acquired by Apple, the $15.7 million that was just invested in LeBron’s Uninterrupted platform on Bleacher Report, and, perhaps most significantly, his stake in Blaze Pizza (which follows the Chipotle concept) and its franchises in Miami and Chicago.

We later talked about the people around LeBron who are negotiating and managing these deals. Rovell heard that, in addition to his inner circle, LeBron (along with Ndamukong Suh and A-Rod) has a “real relationship” with Warren Buffett.