Image: LeBron James
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Beyond his involvement in charity work with the company, LeBron James will be part of TV, print and online advertising campaigns for McDonald's.
updated 1/28/2010 12:43:58 PM ET 2010-01-28T17:43:58

LeBron James is now shooting with a Golden Arch.

The NBA superstar has agreed to a multiyear partnership with McDonald’s Corp., adding the global fast-food giant to a list of heavyweight corporate sponsors that already included Nike, Coca-Cola and State Farm.

Financial terms were not immediately known, but the deal certainly will add to James’ substantial net worth. Last year, Forbes Magazine estimated the 25-year-old made more than $40 million in salary and endorsements. He is currently ranked behind only Tiger Woods on the Bloomberg BusinessWeek list of America’s most powerful athletes.

James will support several McDonald’s programs and promotions as well as Ronald McDonald House Charities, which provides housing to the families of seriously ill children.

He has filmed his first commercial with McDonald’s, a take-off on the infamous 1993 ad that featured hoops legends Michael Jordan and Larry Bird engaging in a trick-shot competition for a Big Mac. The new spot will debut during the Super Bowl on Feb. 7.

James, a six-time All-Star with the Cleveland Cavaliers and reigning league MVP, is thrilled with his newest business partner.

“McDonald’s and I make a great team,” he said. “We share many of the same core values, including a commitment to excellence and giving back to the community. I am also excited about the opportunity to work with Ronald McDonald House Charities, which helps improve the lives of so many children and their families around the world.”

Beyond his involvement in charity work with the company, James will be part of TV, print and online advertising campaigns for McDonald’s, which operates more than 31,000 restaurants in 119 countries.

Maverick Carter, James’ business partner and CEO of LRMR Marketing, called the pairing of James and McDonald’s a “a perfect fit.”

“McDonald’s is one of the best known and most recognizable brands in the world,” Carter said. “LeBron couldn’t ask for a better partner and for him to be involved with such a company says a lot about where he is in his career.”

Carter said James had “on-and-off” talks with McDonald’s over the past four years, and that the sides began finalizing their deal in recent months.

James, who has two young boys, fits McDonald’s wholesome image and his worldwide popularity makes him an ideal ambassador for the company.

“We really like what LeBron stands for on and off the court,” said Peter Sterling, vice president of marketing of McDonald’s USA. “He shares the same values as McDonald’s. He’s hard working. He’s community minded and charity driven. LeBron is also that rare athlete that transcends his sport.”

When Woods admitted to infidelity, the public firestorm led to some of his corporate sponsors either dropping the world’s top golfer or re-examining their relationship with him. Woods’ indiscretions may have prompted companies to take a closer look at potential clients.

McDonald’s had no concerns in signing James.

“It’s a fair question,” Sterling said. “We’ve had a long-term relationship with LeBron, going back to when he was in high school. What we can do is rely on LeBron’s past actions and if his past actions are any indication, we’re very excited about our future.”

In March, James will lend his support to the McDonald’s All-American high school games in Columbus, Ohio. Proceeds from the event will go to Ronald McDonald House charities in central Ohio. James was named MVP of the game when it was held in Cleveland in 2003.

James filmed his commercial for McDonald’s earlier this month in Indianapolis. The spot also features Orlando All-Star center Dwight Howard and Bird, the Boston Celtics legend. Howard recently signed a three-year deal with McDonald’s worth a reported $3 million per year.

Filmed at Conseco Fieldhouse, the commercial is a spin on the famous “The Showdown” ad that Bird made with Michael Jordan. In that commercial, which first aired during the 1993 Super Bowl, the Hall of Famers engaged in a game of H-O-R-S-E with the winner getting a Big Mac. Bird and Jordan traded imaginary trick shots — the final one off a skyscraper’s roof top — which had to be sunk with “nothin’ but net.”

James has made previous Super Bowl ads for Bubblicious and State Farm.

Carter said Steve Stoute, founder of New York-based Translation Advertising, played a key role in bringing together McDonald’s and James.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: The highs and lows of the career of King James

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  1. Draft day

    NBA commissioner David Stern congratulates LeBron James after he was chosen by the Cleveland Cavaliers as the No. 1 overall pick of the 2003 NBA Draft. (Ed Betz / ASSOCIATED PRESS) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. ESPY

    A month after being selected No. 1 overall by the Cavs, LeBron James presents an award with basketball great Julius Erving at the 11th annual ESPY Awards show. (Kevork Djansezian / ASSOCIATED PRESS) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. First sneakers

    The first official sneaker for LeBron James. In high school, LeBron wore the signature shoe of icon Michael Jordan. Now he is being compared to his idol right down to his sneakers. (Rick Bowmer / ASSOCIATED PRESS) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. First game

    In his first NBA game against the Sacramento Kings, LeBron recorded 25 points, nine assists, six rebounds and six steals and shot 60 percent from the field. (Richpedroncelli / ASSOCIATED PRESS) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. 41 points

    On March 27, 2004 against the New Jersey Nets, LeBron became the youngest player to score 40 points in a game (19 years, 88 days, as he recorded 41 points.) (Tony Dejak / ASSOCIATED PRESS) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. King vs. Melo

    A rivalry is made as LeBron James and fellow 2003 draftee Carmelo Anthony square off for the first time in the NBA. (Ron Schwane / ASSOCIATED PRESS) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. R.O.Y.

    Cavs guard LeBron James answers questions during a news conference announcing him as the youngest player to be named NBA Rookie of the Year (19 years of age). (Ron Schwane / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Triple-double

    On Jan. 19, 2005 against the Portland Trail Blazers, LeBron became the youngest player to record a triple-double (20 years, 20 days). He had 27 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. (Rick Bowmer / ASSOCIATED PRESS) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. 56 points

    On March 20, 2005 against the Toronto Raptors, LeBron became the youngest player to score 50 points in a game (20 years, 80 days) with 56. (Frank Gunn / ASSOCIATED PRESS) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Average of 30 points

    In the 2005-06 season, LeBron became the youngest player to average 30 points per game in a season. (Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. All-Star MVP

    LeBron James of the Eastern Conference holds up the MVP trophy at the end of the 2006 All-Star game at the Toyota Center in Houston. He became the youngest player to win the award (21 years, 55 days). (James Nielsen / AFP/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Hot streak

    During the 2007 NBA playoffs, LeBron helped lead the Cavs past the Detoit Pistons by scoring 25 consecutive points. (Gregory Shamus / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. 2007 NBA finals

    Although LeBron led his team to the NBA finals, he could not get them past the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs won the best-of-seven series 4-0. (Jeff Haynes / AFP/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. ESPY host

    LeBron co-hosted the ESPY Awards at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles on July 10, 2007, and also hosted the season premiere of Saturday Night Live in September. (Nick Ut / ASSOCIATED PRESS) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. On the bandwagon

    LeBron James holds up his New York Yankees hat during the fourth inning of Game 1 of the American League Division Series baseball game between the Yankees and Cleveland Indians. LeBron received a lot of criticism from Cleveland fans for being a Yankees fan. LeBron later explained that he grew up being a fan of the Yankees, Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bulls. (Amy Sancetta / ASSOCIATED PRESS) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Second All-Star MVP

    LeBron claims his second All-Star game MVP on Feb. 17, 2008 in New Orleans. LeBron led the East to a 134-128 victory. (Chris Graythen / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. 10,000 points

    On Feb. 27, 2008 against the Boston Celtics, LeBron became the youngest person to score 10,000 points in his career (23 years, 59 days). (Elise Amendola / ASSOCIATED PRESS) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Knicks game

    On March 5, 2008, LeBron tallied 50 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists against the Knicks, becoming the third player since the NBA-ABA merger to record a 50-point, 10-assist game. (Al Bello / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. All-time scorer

    On March 21, 2008, James scored 29 points against the Raptors, passing Brad Daugherty as the all-time leading scorer in Cavaliers history. (Mark Duncan / ASSOCIATED PRESS) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Summer Olympics

    James, along with the rest of Team USA, reclaimed the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, defeating Spain 118-107. He had 14 points, six rebounds and three assists in the gold-medal game. (Dusan Vranic / ASSOCIATED PRESS) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. King of New York

    Two days after Kobe Bryant scored 61 at Madison Square Garden, LeBron puts up 52 and a triple-double as the Cavs beat the Knicks, 107-102, on Feb. 4, 2009. (Nathaniel S. Butler / NBAE/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. First league MVP

    LeBron James holds up the 2008-2009 MVP trophy before the Cavaliers play the Hawks in the Eastern Conference semifinals. He averaged 28.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 7.2 assists in the regular season. (Gregory Shamus / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Second league MVP

    LeBron James became a two-time MVP winner in his final season with the Cavaliers, averaging 29.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 8.6 assists during the 2009-10 regular season. (Bill Kostroun / AP file) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. The 'Decision'

    LeBron James, the NBA's reigning two-time MVP, ended months of free agency speculation and suspense by telling the world live on ESPN on July 8, 2010, that after seven seasons he's leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. (Rich Arden / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. LeBron turns up Heat

    LeBron greets fans as he is introduced during a Miami Heat welcome party at American Airlines Arena on July 9, 2010. (Doug Benc / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. 2011 NBA finals

    LeBron James and the Miami Heat held a 2-1 series lead against Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks, but lost the NBA Finals in six games. (Hans Deryk / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. 2012 NBA finals

    LeBron James led the Heat in scoring in each game as Miami beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games to claim James' first NBA championship. (Nathaniel S. Butler / NBAE/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. 2012 NBA finals MVP

    James was voted the unanimous NBA Finals MVP after averaging over 28 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists per game during the series. (Joe Murphy / NBAE/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. 2012 Summer Olympics

    When the USA won gold in London, James joined Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen as the only players to have won an NBA championship and an Olympic gold medal in the same year. (Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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