LeBron James has been synonymous with the Coca-Cola brand since before his NBA career even began. He originally signed with them in the summer of 2003, before he took the floor with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and has remained with Coke ever since. Over the years, he became one of their most prominent endorsers, specifically for Sprite and Powerade, but after nearly 18 years, that marriage is coming to an end.
In a deal first reported by Front Office Sports and later confirmed by ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, James will sign a new endorsement deal with Pepsi, the official beverage partner of the NBA. James is expected to promote the Mountain Dew brand with Pepsi. Mountain Dew has signed a number of NBA players to endorsement deals in recent years, including Zion Williamson.
James’ deal with Coke expired in 2020, ending one of his longest professional relationships. According to Windhorst, only Nike and Upper Deck have remained with James for his entire career. James signed a lifetime contract with Nike in 2015 that is reportedly worth more than $1 billion, and while the specifics on his Upper Deck deal are not known, they typically retain athletes through their entire careers and beyond. Michael Jordan signed with Upper Deck before winning his first championship and remains with them to this day.
The details on James’ Pepsi deal have not yet been reported, but it was almost certainly an expensive arrangement. James makes an estimated $50 million per year in endorsements, and often demands equity in companies that he works with. Still, Pepsi has deemed his price a worthy investment, and has now secured the services of one of the most reliable pitchmen in sports.