Just when you thought LeBron couldn’t get any richer, the Cleveland Cavaliers star has reached a lifetime deal with Nike, according to two people familiar with negotiations. One source familiar with the negotiations said is the largest single-athlete guarantee in company history.

“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.”

The specific terms of the deal has not been disclosed but the deal marks the first “lifetime” agreement for Nike. Rival companies such as Adidas structured a lifetime agreement with Chicago Bulls guard, Derrick Rose before he fell victim to injuries and soccer great David Beckham. Reebok has a lifetime deal with former Philadelphia 76ers point guard Allen Iverson. Although this is the first lifetime agreement by Nike, it appears very well deserved considering how much money LeBron’s brand has racked in for them over the years.

Nike has made 13 versions of James’ signature shoe, and annual sales in 2015 for his line are estimated to top $400 million.

When Nike signed James in 2003 for 90 million, it had just come off $10.3 billion in annual sales and had its first year selling more products outside the U.S. than in the country. At an investor meeting in October, Nike, which pulled in $30.6 billion in revenues in 2015, announced its goal to do $50 billion by 2020. James’ Nike business has been consistent even when things haven’t gone smoothly. James didn’t wear his LeBron 11 shoes for most of the 2013-14 season because of its fit, but they still sold well at retail. Nike has made more versions of LeBron’s shoe than for any other athlete outside of Jordan, who is on his 30th Air Jordan. Nike sold $340 million worth of James’ signature shoes in a 12-month period from February 2014 through January 2015, Forbes magazine reported. Forbes estimated James earns approximately $44 million a year from various endorsements in addition to the $20-million plus he makes from the Cavaliers.

This is the third agreement between Nike and LeBron as they first agreed in 2003 and extended in 2010. A source close to the deal told ESPN that it easily surpasses the 10-year, $300 million deal Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant signed with the world’s largest shoe and apparel brand last summer.

“LeBron and I have been in love and obsessed with Nike since we were kids. Having built a totally innovative global business with them has truly been a dream come true. We are so excited to be taking the business to an entirely new level. For LeBron, he’s thrilled to know he’s a Nike guy for life.”~ Maverick Carter, LeBron’s business partner

Carter will manage the deal, which was negotiated by Paul Wachter of Main Street Advisers, who also negotiated the deal for John Henry to buy the Red Sox in 2002 and represented Beats By Dre in its $3 billion sale to Apple last May.

The Nike and LeBron experiment has proven to be a lucrative one as the two brands have experienced significant growth over the years. LeBron has ventured into pizza, mobile applications, television, headphones and soccer.

It looks like LeBron and his buddies know what they are doing after all.



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