LeBron James, Nike Agree on Lifetime Contract: Details, Comments, Reaction

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistDecember 7, 2015

LeBron James speaks during the introduction of the LeBron 12 shoe the at the Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., on Tuesday, Sept.16, 2014. (AP Photo/Steve Dykes)
STEVE DYKES/Associated Press

Nike and Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James agreed to a lifetime contract Monday, the biggest of its kind in company history, according to ESPN.com's Darren Rovell. CNBC Now confirmed the deal.

The official terms have yet to be announced, but Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com reported James' annual earnings from Nike will be "multiple times" higher than the $30 million a year Nike is paying Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant.

On Tuesday, USA Today's Sam Amick reported the estimated $400-500 million value is "significantly low."

Fortune's Daniel Roberts tweeted out why companies are so reluctant to offer professional athletes these types of contracts:

Daniel Roberts @readDanwrite

LeBron scores LIFETIME deal w/ Nike. Such deals are virtually unheard of b/c the brand is betting the athlete will never have a scandal.

Rovell reported talks between Nike and James "included the idea of breaking out brand separately" from Nike, but the two sides ultimately decided against it.

James has been under the Nike umbrella since before he entered the NBA. He signed a seven-year deal with the company in 2003 worth a little over $90 million. At the time, many wondered if Nike staked a little too much in an 18-year-old who had yet to play a game in the pros.

The gamble paid off in a big way as LeBron became one of the biggest stars in the NBA and a four-time MVP.

Not only has James delivered on the court, but he has also helped Nike's bottom line. According to Forbes' Kurt Badenhausen, sales of his signature shoe totaled $340 million between February 2014 and January 2015, making him the company's highest earner.


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