LeBron becomes 1st NBA player to surpass $1B in earnings while active
LeBron James has added another distinction to his already lengthy resume.
James, whose earnings hit the 10-figure mark with the release of "Space Jam: A New Legacy," also becomes the first active athlete in North American team sports to eclipse $1 billion in career earnings.
Tiger Woods, Floyd Mayweather, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and Roger Federer are the only other athletes to earn at least $1 billion while active.
James has made $330 million in playing salary since his rookie campaign in 2003 and another $770 million from off-court endorsements, merchandise, licensing, and his media company. The 36-year-old earns more than $100 million annually from endorsement agreements with Nike, PepsiCo, AT&T, Beats, GMC, and others.
His lucrative endorsement deals are due in part to an impressive reach on social media. James' 167-million followers across multiple platforms are fifth-most among athletes behind only Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar, and Virat Kohli.
His closest competitors in the NBA in terms of career earnings are Kevin Durant ($580 million) and Steph Curry ($430 million).
The four-time NBA MVP still has a ways to go to reach Michael Jordan, whose total earnings since joining the Chicago Bulls in 1984 are roughly $2 billion, according to Badenhausen.