LeBron James DraftKings Credit: DraftKings

In the early hours of Tuesday morning, LeBron James generated no shortage of buzz when he cryptically tweeted an hourglass emoji following the Los Angeles Lakers’ loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

As it turns out, the four-time MVP might not have been referencing his on-court career or time with the Lakers, but rather his business portfolio.

At 11:24 a.m. ET on Tuesday — roughly nine hours after his hourglass post — James revealed that he has a new endorsement deal with DraftKings.

“Football season just got A LOT more fun,” James posted with a series of emojis, as well as a picture of him doing his signature chalk toss with the cloud forming the DraftKings crown logo. “Let’s go.”

Retweeting James’ post, DraftKings CEO Jason Robins wrote: “Welcoming one of the most influential and greatest athletes of all time, LeBron James, to the DraftKings family is an absolute honor and privilege. We look forward to working with a passionate sports fan who shares the same competitive mindset that echoes throughout the walls at DraftKings, while delivering exciting engagement opportunities to our customers and his loyal fanbase for years to come.”

James isn’t the first active athlete to partner with a sportsbook. Notably, Colorado Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon has a deal with MaximBet and Edmonton Oilers star Connor McDavid has a deal with the Edmonton Oilers. James does, however, does appear to be the first active NBA player to endorse a sportsbook, which is now permitted under the league’s new collective bargaining agreement under the following guidelines:

  • Such participation is limited to (1) general brand promotion or endorsement, or (2) promotion or endorsement of betting on non-NBA League sports;
  • Compensation for such participation is not determined in any respect by NBA League wagering or outcomes of NBA League games (e.g., compensation to the player may not be based on the amount wagered on NBA League games); and
  • Such participation and such Gaming Company’s operation comply with all applicable laws and regulations relating to sports wagering, fantasy
    sports contests, or similar transactions. The operation of a Gaming Company that is party to an agreement with the NBA or a Team shall, during the term of such agreement, be deemed in compliance with this subsection.

The section also adds: “For clarity, no player may participate in endorsement or promotional activity of a Gaming Company where such endorsement or promotion involves NBA League-related bets or contests.”

Based on the wording of the CBA, don’t expect to see James promoting DraftKings’ NBA lines or prop bets, which would cause an obvious conflict of interest. Rather, it appears the 4-time NBA champion’s promotion of the sportsbook will be related to other sports, as his announcement regarding “football season” suggests.

Obviously, the world’s most famous athlete forming a partnership with a sportsbook is a massive, albeit not totally unexpected, development. It will be interesting to see whether DraftKings — or any other sportsbook — continues to target athletes as endorsers, or if James’ stature makes him an exception.

[LeBron James on X]

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.