LeBron James has agreed what is believed to be the single largest endorsement guarantee in history with Nike – a blockbuster deal that will ensure he represents the sports company for life.
James, a two-time NBA champion, has been a Nike athlete ever since he turned professional in 2003 – agreeing an initial seven-year deal with the Oregon company that was subsequently extended for another nine years in 2010.
Since then the company has worked with the athlete to release a line of shoes and other products bearing his name, and have now decided to ensure the relationship is a permanent one.
Financial details of the deal were not disclosed, but sources told ESPN that the figures dwarf the 10-year, $300 million deal that Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant signed with the sports company in 2014.
“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.”
While Nike have grown their business in part on their endorsement deals with the top stars in various sporting fields – the likes of Tiger Woods, Roger Federer and Cristiano Ronaldo are all signed to the company – James’s deal is believed to be the first of its kind in its history.
“I’m very humbled, man,” James told reporters.
“It’s been an unbelievable time for myself and my family, and I’m just grateful that Nike and [Nike founder] Phil Knight and everyone over there just believed in a skinny 18-year-old kid from Akron, Ohio, and I’m happy to be a part of such a great company.”
Such an arrangement is not entirely new to the industry – Adidas is believed to have similarly long-term deals with former footballer David Beckham.