LeBron James Is Making Noise With His NFL Picks. Could a Sportsbook Deal Be Up Next?
Credit: Matt Roembke of Action Network. Pictured: LeBron James.
LeBron James has been in the NBA for so long, one might think he only knows basketball. But James can trace his wins on the gridiron back to his high school days. Now he's looking for a different kind of win when it comes to football.
Over the past two weeks, James, under the reasoning that he just loves the NFL, started making picks on his Instagram page. James first went live on Instagram Oct. 1, posting a video with a caption that said "My @nfl Week 4 picks. Just having fun and sharing my lil knowledge about the other sport I love! Enjoy y’all Sunday!"
James said in that video he would start doing weekly picks and analysis when the schedule permitted him, then gave a 28-minute breakdown of the games on that day's slate. After a successful Week 4, he followed up with more picks for Week 5, though there was minor controversy among bettors with James picking the Bills to beat the Jaguars in the middle of the third quarter of a game in London.
So how good of a prognosticator is he?
Well, he’s only picking the moneyline, not spreads.
But through the first two weeks, James is a combined 19-8 on picking straight up teams to win (you can follow his picks in the Action App), which would put up $334,000 on $100,000 bet per game bets (12.4% ROI). You think LeBron would bet $100?
You'll notice he had a great Week 4 going 12-2. Week 5 wasn't as great with the King going 7-6 on his picks. Another thing that stands out immediately with James' picks is he's all over the favorites. Only four of his predictions have been on the underdog through two weeks.
His most brutal losses this past week? He picked the Patriots to beat the Saints. They lost 34-0. He picked the Commanders to beat Bears on Thursday Night Football. They lost by 20.
Since no player of his caliber and reach has really ever done this, it has turned some heads.
Why is he doing this? Is it really as innocent as it sounds?
Is there some gambling deal on the horizon and, if he is going to continue making picks, will he start picking spreads?
The reactions from fans has been mixed with one commenter joking that "Fan duel sent bron as a double agent."
Should James want to get paid to make picks for a sportsbook, the NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement wouldn’t prohibit it, as long as he’s not picking or betting on NBA or WNBA games.
Whether James continues to make picks on Instagram into the NBA season remains to be seen, but he certainly garners the eyeballs.
His two videos each drew 2 million views, he's currently the 25th-most followed person on Instagram and the fourth most followed athlete behind Ronaldo, Messi and Neymar. His Thursday Night Football alternate stream on Amazon Prime "TNF in The Shop" with co-creators Paul Rivera and Maverick Carter has also been renewed for a second season and gives James another tie to the NFL.
Two sources close to James says there is nothing imminent with regard to a promotional sportsbook deal and that LeBron just wanted to do this in the name of fun.
But given his stature, and the more relaxed rules around NBA players endorsing gaming brands, it would not be surprising if sportsbooks start to take notice.