Even GOATs are Sports Betting: LeBron James Partners with DraftKings



  • LeBron began sharing his NFL picks during Week 4 of the 2023 season
  • LeBron cannot bet on sports in California but can partner with sports betting companies
  • DraftKings will receive a huge boost in visibility thanks to LeBron’s huge fanbase

LeBron James took a break from his domination on the basketball court to moonlight as an NFL fortune-teller. Less than one year later he’s the newest partner of DraftKings Sportsbook

LeBron, an outspoken fan of NFL action, announced Wednesday that he agreed to a partnership deal with DraftKings that will see him endorse the company and share his favorite NFL betting picks ahead of Sunday kick-offs, along with college football and other non-basketball sports.

The exact framework of the partnership is still a work in progress, but the two will be bound by a multi-year contract.

LeBron the “King” of the NFL? 

According to the NBA's Collective Bargaining Agreement, LeBron cannot wager on any NBA games but can use and partner with legal sportsbooks for other sports and is allowed to gamble at casinos.

“Football season just got A LOT more fun,” LeBron captioned a photo of him doing his signature chalk toss in the shape of the DraftKings (and his) crown. “Let’s go!”

“Welcoming one of the most influential and greatest athletes of all time, LeBron James, to the DraftKings family is an absolute honor and privilege,” DraftKings CEO Jason Robins said in a statement. “LeBron will help support key football initiatives and tentpole events through content creation, such as weekly football picks, and more."

“The King” started a series of pick-sharing on his Instagram during the 2023 NFL regular season. He made his first series of picks during Week 4 after claiming to have correctly predicted a Detroit Lions’ win over the Green Bay Packers.

“Y'all know I love football,” LeBron tweeted on September 30. “With that said I'm thinking about doing my picks of the week(NFL games) tomorrow on [Instagram] live before they start. I did pick Detroit over GB TNF. Anyways we'll see.”

Even in a totally new world of online sports betting, LeBron lived up to his on-court reputation of greatness, going 11-2 with all moneyline picks. 

Fans and followers quickly showed support for his new endeavor and helped convince him to continue giving out picks for the rest of the year. He also tweeted live reactions and analysis of marquee matchups in the NFL and college football throughout the year.

Another star partnership 

LeBron’s enormous following will draw even more eyes to the world of sports betting. He has more than 150 million Instagram and 50 million X (formerly Twitter) followers and is one of the most recognizable public figures worldwide.

Despite that, LeBron can’t legally bet on sports—at least not at home. Sports betting is illegal in California and cannot become legal until 2025 at the earliest. Sportsbooks and lobbyists strongly pushed for two pro-sports wagering measures, Propositions 26 and 27, during the 2022 general election, though both ultimately failed. 

Darren Rovell, a sports business reporter who does lots of work in sports betting, shared his trepidation with LeBron’s deal. Tweeting to his 1.9 million followers, Rovel said LeBron needs to pick winners against the spread instead of straight moneyline picks as he did last year, or else the deal will fail.

“When LeBron made his picks this year, he made moneyline picks, which no one is interested in, especially when they are massive favorites,” said Rovell. “This deal is dead on arrival if it’s not against the spread.” 

The Los Angeles Lakers’ megastar isn’t the first active athlete to find themselves entrenched in the sports betting industry. Edmonton Oilers star and former MVP, Connor McDavid, became the first athlete in a major North American sport to partner with a sports betting company when he joined BetMGM as a brand ambassador in March 2022. 

Colorado Rockies designated hitter Charlie Blackmon also became the MLB player to partner with a sports betting operator when he signed a deal with the since-shuttered MaximBet in 2022.