LeBron James makes a lot of money — in 2017, he earned $86 million — but he also knows how to manage his riches.
He makes that a priority because he's thinking about life after basketball. "I know there will be more time of my life spent off the floor than on the floor," James said in a video series by Uninterrupted.
Like all of us, James has money regrets, but he's also made plenty of savvy money moves over the years. On a new episode of "Kneading Dough," host Maverick Carter asked James about the best financial decision he's ever made. He couldn't pick just one.
"There's two," the NBA star said. "Signing with Nike and getting down with Beats."
Choosing Nike wasn't as easy of a decision as it could seem. When James was 18 years old, he took a meeting with Paul Fireman, the former chairman and CEO of Reebok. Fireman offered the high school senior $10 million on the spot, under one condition: that James wouldn't talk to Nike or Adidas.
"I was lost for words at the beginning," James recalls on a separate episode of "Kneading Dough." "I flew in from Akron, Ohio, from Spring Hill, from the projects. Our rent is like $17 a month and now I'm looking at a $10 million check."
The teen, who had been raised on welfare, didn't take the money: "I started thinking, 'If this guy is willing to give me a $10 million check right now, what's to say that Nike or Adidas is not willing to give me $20 or $30 [million] upfront — or to say that maybe the upfront money is not even the biggest thing.'"
The choice to wait and see paid off big time: Nike offered James a reported $90 million deal. A little over a decade later, James signed a lifetime deal with the brand that may top $1 billion.
As for his other best financial decision, James became an early backer of Beats Headphones. In 2008, he asked for a small stake in the company in exchange for wearing and promoting the product.
When the company sold to Apple for $3 billion in 2014, James reportedly earned $30 million. At the time, the payout was $11 million more than James' salary. And, as ESPN reported, it was "believed to be the biggest equity cash payout for a professional athlete in history."
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