An 18-year-old LeBron James walked away from a $10 million check from Reebok.
James, a high school hoops star at the time, had never seen that kind of money in his life before.
LBJ eventually inked a seven-year, $90 million pact with the Swoosh before playing his first NBA game.
Per the NEOMG:
“Being a first generational money maker in the household is a scary thing for an 18-year-old,” James tells Kneading Dough host and longtime business partner Maverick Carter. “I go from being in a classroom in May to being a multimillionaire in June.”
James reveals that [Reebok chairman Paul] Fireman offered him a check with the promise that the future superstar would not take endorsement meetings with Nike or Adidas.
“I flew in from Akron, Ohio, from Spring Hill, from the projects,” James said. “Our rent was like $17 a month. And Now I’m looking at a $10 million check that I can leave with and go back to high school the next day.”
James says it eventually occurred to him that if Reebok was willing to give him $10 million up front, what was to keep Nike or Adias from offering $20 or $30? Or maybe there was more to it than that.
“Maybe the up front money isn’t the biggest thing,” James said. “Let’s start thinking about the back end.”