James, 30, signed a seven-year, $90 million contract with Nike before he was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003. In 2010, James resigned with Nike and reportedly earned as much as $30 million annually.
James has had his own shoe line with Nike since his rookie season, which grossed the most sales among active players at $340 million per year.
James’ deal with Nike is the latest in a series of successful business ventures, as noted by Fortune’s Daniel Roberts. Last week, he landed a $15.8 million investment from Time Warner Cable in his media company.
James invited criticism in 2005 when he told the AP he wanted to be the first billionaire athlete: “In the next 15 or 20 years, I hope I’ll be the richest man in the world. That’s one of my goals. I want to be a billionaire.” One could offer injuries and declining performance as obvious impediments to this ambition. But with this contract from Nike, James’ first $1 billion seems less contingent on his play and merely a matter of time.