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LeBron James named to Fortune’s “40 under 40″ list

Oct 14, 2010, 7:38 PM EDT

Image (1) LeBron_Heat-thumb-250x359-19591-thumb-250x359-19592.jpg for post 4295

Miami Heat forward LeBron James was the only athlete to be named to Fortune Magazine’s annual “40 under 40″ list. At 25 years of age, James was the youngest person on the list, which included few people under 30. (James edged out the 26-year old Mark Zuckerberg for “youngest on the list” honors, although Zuckerberg finished #2 on the list; James came in at #20.)

Here’s what Fortune had to say about the two-time MVP, entrepreneur, and official Controversial Person:

How many people can stop the pulse of a country? James’s primetime signing with Miami this summer was slammed as a publicity stunt, but his brand emerged unscathed. It was the latest marketing bonanza seeded by his own company, LRMR, which James and high school friends have built over four years. LRMR has brokered James’s deals with McDonald’s and State Farm; a Sports Illustrated tally ranks him No. 4 on its list of top-grossing athletes, with an estimated $42.4 million this year.

Off-season sport: James was spotted golfing with Warren Buffett last summer.

I’m not sure if “unscathed” means what Fortune thinks it means, but one thing is obvious: while James’ likability is certainly debatable, the influence he’s had on his industry and is not. Some people love LeBron, and a lot of people hate him, but the reason he made this list is because nobody can seem to stop talking about him.

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