|Tuesday, February 11
Updated: July 22, 5:33 PM ET
Online book taking bets on LeBron's future shoe deal
By Darren Rovell
There's been much debate over which shoe company will land LeBron James, so it should come as no surprise that now you can actually bet on it.
An online sports book based in Costa Rica has tabbed Nike -- the No. 1 athletic shoe company -- as the favorite, with adidas a close second. Since posting the odds on Friday, BoDog Sports Book & Casino has taken in more than 750 wagers, ranging from its minimum prop bet of $5 to its maximum of $300, said site spokesman Lance Bradley.
The odds for Nike to secure James as an endorser currently are at 1-to-2, adidas is at 3-to-2 and other shoe companies are a 3-to-1 bet.
"The shoe debate is that big of an issue," Bradley said. "The whole sports world is talking about it, so why not give it a chance?"
Bradley says Nike is the favorite because they appear to have the inside track, but adidas still has a chance given that James' St. Vincent-St. Mary team currently wears the brand and adidas' director of basketball Sonny Vaccaro has established a close bond with the prep phenom who is the projected No. 1 overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft. Sports books in Las Vegas cannot take action on such a bet because a shoe deal is not determined on the playing field.
The site allowed gamblers to bet how many points James would score in his high school's game against Oak Hill Academy on Dec. 12, which was watched on ESPN2 in more than 1.6 million homes. In the three days the odds were posted, the online sports book took in more than 1,200 wagers, Bradley said. That's more bets than any NBA prop bet has brought in to the online casino this season.
The site also has odds on what team will draft James. The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Denver Nuggets are favorites at 3-to-1 odds.
James is expected to eventually sign a shoe deal that will be worth at least $5 million per season.
Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for ESPN.com, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.