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LeBron James becomes first active NBA player to become a billionaire

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Yahoo Finance sports reporter Josh Schafer details how NBA superstar LeBron James has become the sport's first active player to reach billionaire status, in addition to Nike Co-Founder Phil Knight's $2 billion bid on the Portland Trail Blazers, and the net worth of other sports' top earners.

Video Transcript

DAVE BRIGGS: All right, the NBA Finals are here, and there may be a new owner of the Portland Trail Blazers. Nike founder Phil Knight and Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Alan Smolinisky are reportedly putting in an offer to purchase the team for more than $2 billion. Knight's bid has not been finalized, and discussions of the potential sale are ongoing. With Knight's long-standing ties to the state of Oregon between the university and Nike, this could be a sign that the team may stay in Portland, the team currently owned by the trust of Paul Allen. As I mentioned, the NBA Finals between the Celtics and Golden State Warriors tip off tonight. Are you excited?

SEANA SMITH: I'm very excited.

DAVE BRIGGS: I am thrilled. LeBron James, his Lakers missed the playoffs entirely, but a nice consolation prize for King James-- Forbes officially declaring him a billionaire today. Josh Schafer is more excited about the NBA Finals. Big Celtics fan. He's here with that story. Josh, he's the first active NBA player to achieve billionaire status. He makes $40 million a year, but that doesn't add up to a billion. So how'd he do it?

JOSH SCHAFER: Dave, I got to say first, it's the finals and we're talking about LeBron. It's unbelievable how he does this, isn't it?

DAVE BRIGGS: Yeah, he's good.

JOSH SCHAFER: But we'll break it down, right? So LeBron made about $385 million in salary so far. But when you look beyond basketball, that's where the numbers get really interesting. So we have the SpringHill Company. That's his production company. And that's the one that produced Space Jam, and it's produced a couple of other films, also producing a biopic on LeBron. So Forbes estimates that's about $300 million. Then you have his stake in Fenway Sports Group, that's $90 million. Blaze Pizza-- this one's my personal favorite because it's estimated that he invested less than a million dollars originally--

SEANA SMITH: Wow.

JOSH SCHAFER: --for a 10% stake, and now it's worth $30 million. So that's a huge jump. Then he's got the real estate, $80 million. He's got a couple of big properties. And then here's the big bag that we're all sort of wondering, what does that mean? They think he's got about $500 million in cash and different reserves and other things just sort of incoming. It's $800 million--

DAVE BRIGGS: That can't be true.

JOSH SCHAFER: It's $800 million before the 500. So he's very close to the billion before the 500.

SEANA SMITH: Cash reserves.

JOSH SCHAFER: And then it's, how much really are the cash reserves? I'm not sure and you're not sure either. But--

DAVE BRIGGS: I'm skeptical. Very.

JOSH SCHAFER: I think the craziest thing, though, is what we're seeing from athletes, right, the way they're investing now. We talk about that Boise investment. And it's pretty famous because the report is that LeBron actually denied a McDonald's sponsorship in order to do the Boise deal. He wanted equity. And all these athletes are going for these equity deals now. And the question is, who's going to kind of win out on those?

And I think there's some fun names we can bring up, the players that kind of make the most money right now in the league. And you see LeBron with a lot of soccer players there. But we know Steph Curry has been very involved with something like FTX. He's been involved with crypto. And then if we go the next slide, you'll see someone like Kevin Durant, who's involved in Whoop. Patrick Mahomes is also involved in Whoop. Tom Brady, obviously, has built this business empire we talked a lot about when he retired for all of 40 days.

But you think, if Brady keeps playing and his brands keep growing-- it's reported that he might have a stake in FTX, too-- maybe he's a billionaire at some point while he's still playing. It really just depends on how these estimates go.

DAVE BRIGGS: [INAUDIBLE] TB12 could be worth a billion in and of itself at some point.

JOSH SCHAFER: Right, and you talk about the Brady brand that he's building and those clothes and everything. I think he's a really interesting person to watch. Mahomes is my current player that might get to the current player of billionaire status to watch.

DAVE BRIGGS: He's halfway there with one contract.

SEANA SMITH: Really? OK.

JOSH SCHAFER: 10 years, 450 million.

SEANA SMITH: Yeah?

JOSH SCHAFER: Couple smart investments, and there you go, I guess, huh?

SEANA SMITH: He's closer than we think.

DAVE BRIGGS: Tiger is a billionaire. We know that.

SEANA SMITH: We know that, yep.

DAVE BRIGGS: Actor, athlete.

SEANA SMITH: Been for a while.

DAVE BRIGGS: Josh, good to see you, my friend. Thank you so much.