LeBron James is not only one of the best basketball players of all-time, but a pretty good business person too. Thanks to his off the court efforts, James has become a billionaire. Believe it or not, James was an early believer and investors in the Blaze Pizza concept and now owns 19 locations.
In this article, I break down LeBron James financial interest in this pizza company and help you determine if an investment in this chain is still a wise business decision. Click here to take our 7-minute franchise quiz to be matched with an business based on your experience and net worth.
How many Blaze Pizza Franchises does LeBron James Own?
LeBron James started with two Blaze Pizza franchises but that number has grown to 19. There is no information where exactly these 19 locations, but there are reports some of the units are located in Illinois, Florida, and Ohio. The stores are managed by the restaurateur Larry Levy. The estimated value of Blaze Pizza is $250 million.
What is the Net Worth of LeBron James?
How wealthy is King James? According to Forbes, Lebron James is worth $1.2 billion. Forbes dubbed him as the “first active NBA player” to make it to the billionaire list, not counting Michael Jordan since he only made it to the list ten years after he retired from the NBA.
So what makes up the $1.2 billion net worth of LeBron James? Forbes broke it down with $900 million coming from LeBron James’s endorsements and businesses and $385 million as his pay from being on the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, and Los Angeles Lakers team. That’s right. LeBron James has made accumulated more wealth through business endeavors than he ever has playing basketball.
Would you invest in Blaze Pizza?
Why is LeBron James Investing in Blaze Pizza?
The history of LeBron James investing in Blaze Pizza can be traced back to 2012 when he invested in the pizza place just as they started. But in 2015 when it was about time to renew his endorsement deal with McDonald’s, the basketball star decided not to do it. Apparently, McDonald’s had a lot of restrictions about him having a huge role with Blaze Pizza.
“The potential of what we could make (with Blaze Pizza) if we just put the time and effort into it exceeded what McDonald’s guaranteed me.” Was what LeBron James said about what went down with his endorsement cancellation at that time.
Breadsticks at Blaze Pizza.
Becoming Blaze Pizza’s spokesperson also meant that he turned his back on a $15 million deal with McDonald’s.
But looking back to it now, it seemed like a good decision for LeBron James to focus on Blaze Pizza because the chain has been doing quite well through the years. Apart from their hundreds of locations in the United States, Blaze Pizza is also expanding internationally. Blaze Pizza has reported recent revenues of $373 million annually.
Is LeBron James trying to buy an NBA Franchise in Las Vegas?
As of the time of this writing, there is no NBA franchise in Las Vegas. An NBA franchise is also known as an NBA team and at present, the professional basketball team that they have which is the Las Vegas Aces is the one competing in the Women’s National Basketball Association.
However, there have been recent reports that LeBron James is interested in buying an NBA franchise in Las Vegas. “I would love to bring a team here at some point. That would be amazing,” James said after his preseason showcase. He mentioned NBA commissioner Adam Silver saying he wants a team in Sin City. This is the second time Lebron James has mentioned wanting to own a team in Las Vegas in the future.
As a billionaire, it might be possible for LeBron James to own an NBA franchise in Las Vegas. However, it should be noted that the price to own an NBA team can be quite expensive. For instance, American Businessman Joe Tsai purchased the Brooklyn Nets back in 2019 at a price of $3.3 billion. LeBron James would need to partner with someone to be able to afford an NBA team.
It should be noted that LeBron James also owns other sports team. He, along with American Sports Marketing Businessman Maverick Carter, joined forces with Fenway Sports Group to co-own soccer team Liverpool F.C. and baseball team Red Sox.
Does LeBron James Own Any Other Businesses?
Here are some of the businesses that LeBron James has an ownership stake in.
As mentioned above, LeBron James is very active in Blaze Pizza in which he receives an estimated $30 million. Back in 2012, LeBron James purchased 10% of Blaze Pizza’s stakes for less than $1 million. Not only did he buy a slice of the pizza business but he also promotes the brand by working behind the scenes with them and even handing out pizzas to endorse them. Because of the popularity of the pizza chain’s concept along with the help of Lebron James’ fame, Blaze Pizza grew to 340 locations in and outside of the United States.
Fenway Sports Group
It would only make sense that one of Lebron James’s business ventures is to own a sports team. But make that several sports teams as Lebron James is an investor in Fenway Sports Group, a sports holding business that also owns the English soccer team Liverpool F.C, American baseball team the Boston Red Sox, NASCAR’s RFK Racing, and hockey team the Pittsburgh Penguins.
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James Lebron got into Fenway Sports Group in 2011 along with Maverick Carter. He reportedly owns a minority stake that’s around 1% of the group and that his investments provide him around $90 million. However, in recent news, that percentage might have just gone up as part of a lifetime marketing deal he signed.
The SpringHill Company
The SpringHill Company is an entertainment and media production company founded by Lebron James and Maverick Carter. This started in 2020 although SpringHill is a combination of three already functioning companies all merged into one. These companies are:
- SpringHill Entertainment – an entertainment company that started in 2007
- Robot Company – a brand consultancy and marketing agency founded by Lebron James, Maverick Carter, and Paul Rivera. Rivera is known for creating The Shop, a show that has Carter and James talk with guests in a barbershop setup.
- Uninterrupted – a platform that has athletes share their stories. Founded in 2015.
Lebron James along with Maverick Carter was able to acquire $100 million in investments to start SpringHill Company with the intent of empowering black audiences. It is said that renowned tennis player Serena Williams is part of the board.
The entertainment company has produced shows such as the 2021 Space Jam that stars Lebron James, Netflix’s Self Made, and the 1990 comedy remake House Party.
LeBron James Business Interests.
SpringHill is named after the apartment complex that Lebron James and his mother stayed in Ohio. He is considered the largest shareholder of the company though his stake is not more than 50%. It is estimated that Lebron James receives around $300 million from his stakes in the company.
Lebron James’s other investments and business ventures include his shares from a fitness company called Ladder that was bought for $28 million and his $3 billion sale of Beats by Dre in 2014 to Apple.
Aside from food, entertainment, and sports, Lebron James’s wealth also includes real estate. He has an 8 bedroom home in Los Angeles that’s worth $23 million. He constructed a mansion in his hometown of Ohio that’s estimated to be $10 million. He also recently acquired a 13,000-square-foot mansion in Beverly Hills for $36.75 million.
Who is LeBron James?
LeBron James is a name that’s well-known in the world of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He has won numerous awards with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, and the Los Angeles Lakers. But his recent awards include AP Athlete of the Year in 2020, 5-time NBA All-Star with the Los Angeles Lakers, and 2023’s all-time scoring leader. He is also known for his 3 NBA Championships and 4 MVP NBA Awards. LeBron also represented the United States of America in the Olympic Games in 2004, 2008, and 2012.
Aside from being a star basketball player, Lebron James is evolving into a savvy businessman. James is a part owner and spokesperson of Blaze Pizza, co-founder of SpringHill Entertainment, has a stake in Beats by Dre and many other businesses wherein he is either a spokesperson, investor, or part-owner.
What is Blaze Pizza?
Blaze Pizza is a fast-casual pizza chain based in California. What’s special about this pizza place is that it’s made-to-order. Customers can customize their pizza toppings in just one price and that it only takes 3 minutes to cook the pizza with the help of their wood-fired oven.
The owners of Blaze Pizza are the founders of Wetzel’s Pretzels’ Elise and Rick Wetzel. The pizza chain has been running for 12 years and has over 300 restaurants and has locations in other parts of the country such as Canada and the Middle East. They’re still continuing to expand into new territories today.
Blaze Pizza Box
Should You Invest in a Blaze Pizza Franchise?
LeBron James has invested his money in Blaze Pizza. But is this the right investment for you, presumably a non-billionaire?
The financial requirements to franchise Blaze Pizza include a liquid capital of $300,000 with a minimum net worth of $500,000. Expect the initial investment to be around $624,400 to $1,106,500 and the franchise fee to be $30,000. To know more about Blaze Pizza, you can check out our full guide on how to franchise them here.
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One thing to keep in mind is that James first invested in Blaze Pizza back in 2012 when it was a more innovative pizza concept. Now the pizza chain has been serving up customized pies for more than a decade already. The pizza chain is still expanding, but the explosive growth period of this franchise is likely over.
Blaze Pizza was recognized as “the premier innovator” in the pizza industry when the business was introduced. Their concept is akin to Chipotle in which owners Elise and Rick Wetzel did admit that they were able to get the idea to do a pizza version of it while they were having their meeting in the Mexican grill restaurant. Blaze Pizza opened two locations in Pasadena and Irvine in 2012 and has expanded to more than 300 locations since then.
Aside from giving customers having to choice of placing toppings on their pizza, Blaze Pizza is all about fast service and make right in front of customers. Despite being fast, Blaze Pizza still uses fresh ingredients. They also don’t use artificial flavors, preservatives, artificial colors, and offer gluten-free options including cauliflower crust on the menu.
Lebron James isn’t the only celebrity that invested in Blaze Pizza. They also have former California First Lady Maria Shriver and movie producer John Davis and private equity firm Brentwood Associates in their list of high-profile investors.
Blaze Pizza may be around for more than 10 years already but they still seem like a fresh concept. The chain is continuing to open even more locations with a recent one in Baton Rouge. Made-to-order pizzas along with a choose your own topping kind of concept is also an interesting experience for diners. And with the addition of Lebron James as an investor the chain has a globally recognized athlete backing the concept.