It’s hard to disassociate Miami sports and LeBron James. Since coming to Florida, the basketball player has certainly made an impact with his team. As such, it may not be surprising to hear that James made it to number two on the list of the highest-earning athletes in the nation. The primary source of that income, however, may catch some readers off guard.

According Sports Illustrated, James earns $17.55 million from the Heat each year, but makes a total of $56.55 million annually. Where does the difference come from? Some may argue that James is the best basketball player in the game, but there is no doubting that he makes more in endorsements than any other professional athlete

In doing the math, James earns $39 million alone in athlete endorsements, which is over twice as much as his basketball salary. Currently, James endorses Nike, Samsung and McDonald’s, all of which are among the world’s most iconic companies.

The Sports Illustrated report also indicates that boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. has the highest earnings among any athlete. Despite not being at the top of this year’s list, James still earns more from endorsements than any other athlete.

This case shows that negotiating endorsement deals for atheletes may be just as beneficial as negotiating a contract with a team. Of course, an athlete must first build a personal brand before being able to accumulate major endorsements. Trustworthy representation can go a long way in helping athletes to make an impression and expand their portfolio beyond the court.

Source: NBC South Florida, “LeBron 2nd-Highest Earning US Athlete: Sports Illustrated,” David Hill, May 15, 2013