Who are the biggest winners in the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) acquisition of Beats Electronic? Add LeBron James to that list.

LeBron James

ESPN writers Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst revealed that James pulled down a $30 million pay day when Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) purchased Beats, making it among the biggest known stock wins for a professional athlete in history.

LeBron James: Apple – Beats acquisition; biggest equity cash payout for a professional athlete in history

“While James was leading the Heat to a victory over the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference finals, sources say the 20-year-old was finalizing what is believed to be the biggest equity cash payout for a professional athlete in history as part of Apple’s recent $3 billion purchase of Beats Electronics,” the ESPN report says.  The report notes James realized the gain as a result of a small stake he had in the company when it was founded in 2008 – in exchange for promoting the high-end headphones.

In other words, for wearing headphones for the past five years he achieved an equal amount to playing for a year and a half.  His annual salary from the Heat is $20 million.

It is unclear exactly how James came upon the investment opportunity. James and Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine both had the same financial advisor at one point, who might have connected the two on the deal.

LeBron James to get paid by the Basketball team for what he is worth

LeBron James has speculated in the media that he would ever get paid by a Basketball team what he was worth due to the NBA’s bargaining rules, but has expressed a willingness to take less compensation to benefit the team.  James is a 10-time all star, four-time most valuable player and two time NBA champion team member. Despite this, he is not the highest player on the team.

Does LeBron James even need a salary? “His off-court earnings make his actual salary somewhat irrelevant, said Roger Sherman of SBNation. “He can afford to make less money and allow his team to fit in other quality players under the league-mandated salary cap.”

Success could breed success. With an increased aptitude towards winning, James could actually make much more money through sponsorships than through his team provided salary.

LeBron James is winning off the court, but with his team down 2-1 in the NBA finals, his on court play is what counts over the short term.