If you are a basketball fan, “King James” is a household nickname. The self-proclaimed “Best player in the world,” Lebron James (yeah, he did really say that) has quite a collection of cars, but one in particular recently captured the attention of the nation. His Kia K900, the car that he pushes on a number of Kia ads that began last December, had a number of people on the Internet up in arms as to whether or not he actually owns and drives a Kia. As it turns out, there’s some truth to the claim.
Back in 2014 Kia signed James as a spokesperson for the brand. According to a story in the Wall Street Journal in December, some 30,000 tweets have addressed the James-Kia relationship, many doubting the veracity of the claim that one of the most highly paid basketball players would ever drive a Kia. The story goes on to detail how King James came to Kia in 2014 asking to drive the K900 before it was out. From there a relationship blossomed and Kia signed the basketball great as a spokesperson. Kia hasn’t disclosed how it pays James, but the player pulls down roughly $45 million per year in endorsements from everyone from Coca-Cola to Nike and Kia.
It’s not a surprise that there has been so much skepticism around James and his Kia. Sports and cars endorsements generally generate that kind of feeling in consumers, according to the Journal. Mainly because athletes pull down so much cash, its hard for consumers to believe they’d choose a Buick (like Tiger Woods) or a Kia like James. Kia is no stranger to sports endorsements either. They are the official automotive sponsor of the NBA and their logos will be all over NBA jerseys until 2017.
Despite Kia’s efforts, the public was still skeptical, until May of this year, that is. After coming home from a game in Atlanta, Cavaliers teammate Richard Jefferson put up a Snapchat that shows that Lebron actually does drive a Kia. The snap shows Lebron getting ready to get into his Kia and head home as Jefferson ribs him about “getting one of these bad boys.” You can see the Snap over at [Sports Illustrated (http://www.si.com/extra-mustard/2016/05/09/cleveland-cavaliers-lebron-james-kia) if you want to check it out yourself.
Now a word to the wise, the truth is that the Kia isn’t James’ only car. He has a number of notorious if not somewhat questionably colored cars in his collection including a wrapped Lamborghini, a Porsche 911 Turbo S, a terribly white Camaro SS, and a Ferrari F430 Spider, amongst others. He obviously has a thing for white cars as most of his collection bears the neutral color. There’s no word on whether James bought his K900 or if he got it as part of his deal with Kia. There’s also no word on whether or not he is required to drive it at a set interval to prove that yes, he does, in fact, drive a Kia.
Digital media content producer/consultant & former CNN senior producer, now running CN'TRL : Cars, Tech, Real Estate & Luxury.