LeBron James was the highest-paid athlete in the world last year, pulling in more than $125 million. But that doesn’t mean he’s giving Elon Musk a dime.
On Friday, hours before Twitter was expected to remove its signature checkmarks from any personal accounts that aren’t signed up for the service’s paid Twitter Blue offering, James tweeted, “Welp guess my blue ✔️ will be gone soon cause if you know me I ain’t paying the 5. 🤷🏾♂️”
Technically Blue costs $8-per-month, and the checks are white, surrounded by blue, but this is Twitter we’re talking about, so what’s a couple of inaccuracies?
Rachel Nichols followed up—at that time still verified herself—to remind James of the time Dywane Wade called his then-teammate the cheapest player in the NBA, a charge the highest-paid athlete doesn’t deny. It has also been reported that postgame locker room music controlled by James is often interrupted by the ads of free-version streaming services.
The apparent king of saving a buck isn’t the only athlete saying goodbye to his verified status. Reigning NFL champion Patrick Mahomes followed up James’ remark by asking when Twitter would be plucking their checks. Then he rebuffed a request from Chiefs wideout Marques Valdes-Scantling to cover some of his teammates’ Blue fees. “Can’t bro,” Mahomes tweeted. “I got kids.”
Other organizations, from ESPN to the White House, have reportedly sent similar messages to employees. Just how big of an impact the policy change will have remains unclear, but there are already fears of imposter accounts popping up to embarrass players or impersonate newsbreakers.
After unverified users were able to secure a checkmark by signing up for Blue in November, a fake Eli Lilly account “sparked a panic” inside the company after it incorrectly announced that insulin would be made freely available. In a worst-case scenario for the platform, similar instances could lead star athletes and notable journalists to dump Twitter for another method of fan interaction.
For now though, at least one athlete saw a silver lining to the bird app’s changes.
“They can have my blue check,” Eagles cornerback Darius Slay wrote on Twitter. “Fans might tag the wrong name now when someone catch a ball on me!!”