LeBron James is setting the bar with his latest venture — a lifetime deal with Nike that’s the first of its kind in the apparel juggernaut’s 44-year history.
The company made the announcement on Monday, ESPN reports, although full details of the deal haven’t been released. Nike and James first came together in 2003, before the star was a member of the NBA. At 18 years old, he was given a seven-year Nike endorsement contract worth just over $90 million. The risk paid off; LeBron has gone on to become one of the most successful players and businessmen in the field.
The deal surpasses previous partnerships between Nike and other players like Michael Jordan and Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant. And it’s a first for Nike, who’s never completed a lifetime deal with an athlete. Both parties released statements.
“We can confirm that we have agreed to a lifetime relationship with LeBron that provides significant value to our business, brand, and shareholders,” Nike said in a statement. “We have already built a strong LeBron business over the past 12 years, and we see the potential for this to continue to grow throughout his playing career and beyond.”
“It meant a lot to me even when I signed my first deal just to be with Nike, and it means even more that they’ve given me this,” James said. “It’s like I said, very humbling and grateful, and I’m going to continue to do my job and represent the brand the best way I can like I know how. Hopefully, people see that.”
The player will reportedly earn over $30 million a year from Nike. Critics took to #SportsTwitter, where they shared their thoughts on marketable players.
The deal will more than likely fuel James’ philanthropic efforts long after he steps off the court. This year, he announced a scholarship program called “I PROMISE,” which will assist exceptional high school graduates as they move on to college. Parents of the program will also receive assistance in completing their GEDs, as well as job training programs.