Beats deal netted LeBron James the biggest equity cash payout in sports history

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NBA superstar (and Samsung shill) LeBron James reportedly made some serious bank as a result of Apple’s $3bn Beats acquisition in May — ranking as the largest equity cash payout for a professional athlete in history.

Citing sources close to the issue, ESPN claims that James struck a deal to promote Beats headphones back in 2008, in exchange for a minority interest in the then-new company. Although it’s not known exactly how many shares he owned (Beats has always framed it as a “business relationship” without giving further details), it was enough to earn him a whopping $30 million in both cash and stock when the Beats deal was finally done.

While LeBron James is not the only athlete to wear Beats headphones, he has been key in helping to establish the brands popularity in this market.

Interestingly, Beats has states that it plans to use James in future ads for the brand — despite his ties with Apple rival Samsung. James featured in several Samsung ad campaigns, including last year’s “The Next Big Thing” Super Bowl ad for the brand.

Apple has yet to chime in on the subject.

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About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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