CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James won’t play in the Super Bowl, but he’ll be popping up during — and after — the big game.
The Cavaliers star forward will debut his signature Bubblicious bubble gum in a 15-second TV commercial during Sunday’s Super Bowl telecast. Following the game between the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots, James will appear as himself in an episode of The Simpsons.
“It’s going to be great,” James said following Thursday’s shootaround in Miami as the Cavaliers prepared to play the Heat. “I’m happy that I can be a part of it, happy I did the spots and things like that. I hope people just don’t forget about the Super Bowl and watch just the commercials.”
James, who last year signed a $5 million endorsement deal with Cadbury Adams, maker of Bubblicious, stars in the commercial for LeBron’s Lightning Lemonade, the sour and snappy gum named for him.
Cadbury Adams paid roughly $1.2 million to run the spot, the company’s first ever commercial during the Super Bowl and Bubblicious’ first major TV ad in years.
James filmed the commercial in December at Gund Arena.
With his first Super Bowl advertisement, James continues to follow the path carved by his idol, Michael Jordan, who regularly starred in commercials during the NFL’s showcase event.
In the Bubblicious commercial, James strides onto a court inside a deserted arena chewing his gum. “So much hype, so much pressure … so much for letting it affect you,” the announcer says before James, the league’s reigning rookie of the year, blows a bubble and drives to the basket for a dunk.
“I can’t think of a more exciting way to debut our new campaign than the Super Bowl,” said Blake Glenn of Bubblicious. “This new spot showcases Bubblicious’ tradition of explosive flavors — and embodies LeBron’s explosive style.”
Following the game, James will appear in animated form along with Bart, Homer, Marge and the rest of The Simpsons.
“It’s my favorite cartoon,” James said. “Heck, it’s like a sitcom. It’s my favorite show of all time.”
James, New England quarterback Tom Brady, Houston Rockets center Yao Ming, figure skating champion Michelle Kwan and Oakland Raiders lineman Warren Sapp lent their voices for the episode.
In it, Homer Simpson is spotted doing a dance at a local carnival before being asked to choreograph the Super Bowl halftime show.
James recorded his voice-over in Los Angeles last July before leaving for the Athens Olympics.
“He had a blast doing it,” said Mary Ford, one of James’ representatives. “They loved having him, too.”