While the NBA news surrounding the Miami Heat include two prominent storylines – their attempt to get out of a 2-1 deficit against the San Antonio Spurs as well as the rumor that Carmelo Anthony might join them in South Beach for a “Big Four” – comes a report that LeBron James scored the biggest equity cash payout for a professional athlete in history. As part of the now confirmed Apple acquisition of Beats Electronics, ESPN is reporting that James made $30 million USD after acquiring a small stake in the company at its inception in 2008 in exchange for promoting its high-end headphones. As the Washington Post notes, “It’s not clear whether James recognized Beats as a profitable venture and negotiated the inclusion of a stake in the company. At one point, James and Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine shared a financial adviser, Paul Wachter, and perhaps he saw the benefit of the deal to both parties.” They go on to say, “James would not be the first sports star to profit from an equity deal with a sponsor. New York Mets third baseman David Wright’s business savvy was much touted when he opted for a .5 percent stake in Vitamin Water rather than taking cash to appear in ads. His payout when the company was sold was rumored to be $20 million. In 2010, Tom Brady’s deal with Under Armour included equity. In fact, equity for sports stars is a trend.”
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