Ted Leonsis, the chairman and majority owner of Monumental Sports and Entertainment, says he believes that in 10 years’ time an NBA 2K League player will be better compensated than LeBron James is today.
As well as owning the Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals, Monumental runs NBA 2K League team Wizards District Gaming and is a major investor in aXiomatic, which has a controlling interest in Team Liquid, a global competitive esports team.
NBA 2K League players currently earn between $32,000-$37,000 (US) as a base salary. James, meanwhile, earned a base salary of $35,654,150 for the Lakers in the 2018-19 season, while according to Forbes his total annual salary, including endorsements, is $88.7m.
While some esports stars earn millions of dollars in salary, streaming royalties, and endorsements, the NBA 2K League is not remotely close to reaching the earning levels of an established NBA such as James.
Nonetheless, Leonsis said on Tuesday: “I believe that in 10 years one NBA 2K player will be more well known, popular and better compensated than LeBron James is today.
“It’s just math. If you’re in India, you’re not able to see LeBron, you can’t buy tickets and go to the game, you can’t watch it on cable…you can see a couple of clips. These [esports] players are developing [social media] handles, they’re developing personalities, they’re online and anyone can watch and participate.”
Leonsis, who was speaking on a panel at the Wall Street Journal “Future Of Everything” Festival in New York, added that Team Liquid is now worth more than the $85m he paid for the Capitals in 1999.