Nike has signed Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James to a lifetime deal in what one source familiar with the negotiations said is the largest single-athlete guarantee in company history, ESPN reported.
“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.”
A company spokesperson would not say how much Nike paid. It is believed to be the first lifetime deal in the shoe and apparel company’s 44-year history.
“I’m very humble, man,” James, 34, told reporters after Monday’s practice. “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-old, skinny 18-year-old kid from Akron, Ohio, and I’m happy to be a part of such a great company.”
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,” Maverick Carter, James’ business partner, said Monday. “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.”