Even though his team is down a game in the NBA Championship series against the San Antonio Spurs, athlete LeBron James does have something new to smile about. As part of Apple’s $3 billion acquisition of Beats Electronics and Beats Music, James is due to net a profit of $30 million:
In a recent example, while James was leading the Heat to a victory over the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference finals, sources say the 29-year-old was finalizing what is believed to be the biggest equity cash payout for a professional athlete in history as part of Apple’s recent $3 billion purchase of Beats Electronics. Sources briefed on the situation say James realized a profit of more than $30 million in cash and stock in the Beats sale after he had struck a deal to get a small stake in the company at its inception in 2008 in exchange for promoting its high-end headphones.
This $30 million comes from James’ stake in Beats, which he acquired in 2008 as part of him promoting the Beats line of headphones (as seen in the above image with Dr. Dre). Today’s report comes in light of the Miami Heat seeking to add superstar Carmelo Anthony to its roster during this upcoming NBA offseason. As part of signing Anthony, James would need to take a salary cut, and James is looking at new off-the-court business initiatives (like the Apple/Beats deal) to make up for that lost income.
According to ESPN, this payout results in the biggest payout of its kind for an athlete.
It is unclear if James will continue to work with Beats following the closing of the Apple acquisition. James is well-known to be the top spokesperson for Apple’s main rival, Samsung. This is not Apple’s first connection to a top NBA player. A couple of weeks ago, we broke the news about a meeting between LA Lakers guard Kobe Bryant and Apple design chief Jony Ive at Apple’s Cupertino campus. It is unclear what the Bryant/Ive meeting was in regard to, but we speculate that perhaps Apple is lining up some sports sponsorship partnerships for its upcoming push into the health and fitness arena.
Apple announced its plan to acquire Beats by Dre and Beats Music and bring both Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine into the Apple fold in May. The acquisition is expected to close in Q4 2014, and Apple has already promoted Dr. Dre via a phone call demo at its recent Worldwide Developers Conference and Iovine alongside services chief Eddy Cue at the recent Code Conference in Los Angeles. Apple (and James) also recently joined Beats in last week’s World Cup ad.