Two years ago today, January 26, 2020, the world changed. That's the day a helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others crashed in Calabasas, California. It was shocking news—three teenage girls and their families were en route to a youth league basketball game. They were all killed instantly.
We mourned the loss of nine lives. Bryant was just four years removed from his final NBA game and was in the early stages of what surely would have been a stellar second career as a businessman.
He made $323 million from on-court salary during his 20-year NBA career—one of the highest total career earnings ever. He also took home about $350 million from his endorsement deals, partnering with Nike, Sprite, McDonald's, BodyArmor, Lenovo, Panini, Hublot, and Turkish Airlines. Bryant was massively popular in China, too, which gave him key sponsorships with major Chinese brands Alibaba, Mercedes Benz, and Sina.com.
At the time of his death, Kobe Bryant's net worth was $600 million (more on that in a minute). If he were still alive today, how rich would he be right now?
First, let's look at one of Bryant's smartest investments. Back in 2014, he reportedly took just one sip of a BodyArmor drink and was moved to invest. The company branded itself as a healthier alternative to Gatorade, without artificial sweeteners and colors and no excess of added sugars. Bryant paid $6 million for a 10% stake in the company.
BodyArmor's founders—Mike Repole and Lance Collins—were no strangers to success; Collins previously worked with Fuze tea, while Repole ran Glaceau, which included the brands vitaminwater and smartwater. Coca-Cola paid $4.1 billion to acquire Glaceau in 2007.
The year before Bryant invested, BodyArmor had modest revenue figures of $10 million. By 2018, BodyArmor had generated $250 million, and that was enough to sway Coca-Cola into investing. Coca-Cola agreed to pay $300 million for a 15% stake. In other words, Bryant's $6 million had become worth $200 million on paper.
That $200 million was a pre-tax valuation added to Bryant's overall net worth. If you remove BodyArmor from the equation, Bryant's net worth was $400 million when he died.
As part of the deal, Coca-Cola took over bottling and distribution of BodyArmor products in exchange for another 15% of the company. BodyArmor generated an estimated $1.4 billion in revenue in 2021.
In November 2021, Coca-Cola purchased the remaining 70% of BodyArmor to take full control of the company. That deal was worth $5.6 billion, valuing BodyArmor at $8 billion.
Sometime between the two Coca-Cola deals, Bryant's equity stake dropped from 10% to 5%. Now that Coca-Cola has purchased all of BodyArmor, we know how much a cashout for Bryant would be: $400 million. That's a 6,566% return on investment!
After taxes were removed, Bryant would have taken home about $270 million. Add that to his previous net worth without BodyArmor and he'd be worth about $670 million. With the appreciation of other assets and investments, it's probably safe to say that if Kobe were alive today, his net worth would be touching…
However, with the rate he was learning about business and making connections, he very likely would have had a few other deals brewing, too—increasing his net worth even further. It's very likely that Kobe would have hit billionaire status within the next 5-10 years.