It’s no surprise to those who pay attention to LeBron James’ career path that he has many interests away from basketball. Whether producing music for superstar rappers, producing and starring in Hollywood productions, or launching his own brand of workout supplements, James has proven to be just as savvy a businessman as he has been a basketball player. One investment in particular, however, might be better than all of the other ones put together.
What is Blaze Pizza?
In 2012, James invested $1 million into a growing pizza chain called Blaze. At the time, Blaze was blooming into a national chain, and James opened up a pair of restaurants in Miami and Chicago.
Blaze Pizza is not your typical pizza restaurant. While most pizzerias out there make pizza that is meant for a group that is made for delivery, take out, or a class meal on a birthday, Blaze makes individual pizzas in a brick oven that are fully customized by customers.
Much like Chipotle does with burritos or Subway does with sandwiches, patrons of Blaze move down a line and tell workers exactly what kinds of toppings they want. These toppings can range from the staples — pepperoni, sausage, olives, and mushrooms — to the bizarre, such as corn.
There are no limits to what customers can do, and for the right price, they can add as many or as few toppings as they want. James reportedly gets as many as 16 toppings on his pizza, if his social media feed is to be believed.
On top of the delicious pizzas, patrons can wash down their concoctions with a variety of fruit-flavored drinks. If they are still hungry, they can finish it off with the old campfire favorite — a s’more. Blaze offers a casual dining version on one of the most popular foods in the country. James saw this when he invested.
How much has LeBron James made?
Between 2012 and 2017, LeBron James’ $1 million investment grew to a $35 million investment. With this type of capital going into the business, it has to be a money-making endeavor. Athletes investing in the restaurant world is not a new concept, but James’ success with Blaze is a story largely unmatched by even the biggest names who have embarked on such a journey.
Blaze is now the fastest-growing food chain of all-time in the United States. James has shown up at many Blaze events over the years, going undercover as a worker for a viral video, and speaking about the company on more than one occasion. His home arena, The Staples Center, even has a Blaze in house, although that was there before James ever put on a Los Angeles Lakers jersey.
James now owns 19 Blaze Pizza franchises and counting. This investment, combined with several other smart financial decisions, have made him a very wealthy man. This might have people wondering one thing, however. Is James a billionaire?
Is LeBron James a billionaire?
Very few athletes can claim membership in the exclusive billionaire’s club. Michael Jordan did it, as did Tiger Woods. Roger Federer is inching closer and closer to the club by the minute. James, however, is not a member. Not yet, at least. According to the most recent estimate by Forbes, James is now worth $450 million.
This may seem like a far stride from a billion, but Jordan only recently joined the billionaire’s club. Furthermore, many of James’ investments in films, companies, and other endeavors are still in their early stages. His lifetime Nike deal alone is reportedly worth $1 billion on its own, although the exact numbers still are not known.
James has proven to be one of the savviest businessmen in all of professional sports. His growing stake in Blaze is but a small testament to this that paints a bigger picture.