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LeBron James ends McDonald’s relationship, moves on to pizza chain

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LeBron James is moving on from a long-term — and lucrative — business relationship with fast McDonald’s to throw his support behind an upstart pizza chain with which he became an investor several years back.

A source has confirmed to Northeast Ohio Media Group that the Cleveland Cavaliers superstar is setting his sights on expanding the brand and name recognition for Blaze, a “Chipotle-style, assembly-line pizza restaurant.”

James originally invested in Blaze in 2012. Among its original investors, James also secured franchise rights for the chain in both Cleveland and Miami. In deciding to lend his marketing pull to Blaze, James had to end his relationship with McDonalds, a source reports.

“This move aligns with LeBron’s brand and his history of helping companies grow faster and bigger as an equity partner,” said James’ business manager, Maverick Carter, via ESPN.com.

James was a huge presence in McDonald’s advertising over the years as he became the pro athlete face of the fast food giant. But in moving on to Blaze, James essentially can double-down on his investment with its parent company, reaping the profits and brand recognition that undoubtedly will rise given his involvement and endorsement.

While the exact stake James has in Blaze is unknown, sources have indicated he owns more than 10 percent of the company.

In the end, perhaps we should have seen James’ departure from McDonald’s as an inevitability, especially after he made disparaging remarks about the relative unhealthiness of food offered by the restaurant.