When he was 18 years old, LeBron James turned down a $100 million offer, with an additional $10 million on the spot, from Reebok.
Steve Stoute, who served as Reebok’s chief creative officer at Translation Consulting and Brand Imaging in New York at the time, was a guest on Hot 97 on Wednesday and revealed LeBron handed back a physical check for $10 million so that he could take a $90 million offer from Nike.
“We offered him more money,” Stoute, who pitched LeBron on the deal, said. “You’re going to pay this 18-year-old kid $100 million. That’s what it is. So, I decided, we’re going to pay him the money anyway, let’s give him $10 million to not have any more meetings. Pay him exactly what he wants to get paid, then pay him $10 million more, so he wouldn’t meet anybody else.
“He took the $10 million check — the check was on the spot, and he was still living in the projects — he looked at the $10 million check, we left the room, he took a couple minutes to think about it. They didn’t even need a couple minutes. He already knew he was ‘The Chosen One.’ He didn’t want that.”
Then? He went to school the next day.
Adidas also made an offer to James, except it was for $7 million a year with incentives up to $10 million, not $10 million upfront as former consultant Sonny Vaccaro had planned.
James has been signed to Nike ever since.