SF Woman Wins LeBron James’ Small-Business Contest, Proving NBA King Is OK Guy

Even the most hardened of Golden State Warriors fans will appreciate this story: A woman in San Francisco won LeBron James’ #PitchLeBronContest for small-business owners, which comes with the prize of wide-reaching exposure on the NBA star’s social media network.

Lest you think the Dubs dream-season-crushing Cleveland Cavalier was trolling the Bay Area, just take a look at the work Yolanda Jones does for folks in the city. Her company, Yolanda’s Construction Administration & Traffic Control, provides administrative and traffic control services for local construction projects. As she said in her 23-second contest entry video, Jones tries to give men and women in impoverished communities like Bayview-Hunters Point a chance to “earn a decent living.”

The contest was a promotional lead-up to this week’s debut of James’ new TV show, Cleveland Hustles, which is a lot like Shark Tank, in which people pitch their business ideas to investors with tons of money. So, yes, the superstar athlete did this somewhat for personal reasons, but after you see Jones’ reaction to winning the contest, you might not care. Plus, King James is so famous and such a valuable brand on his own, a social media post from him is worth some $140,000. After all, he does have 32.5 million Twitter and 24.4 million Instagrams followers, along with nearly 23 million Facebook fans.

Jones is a great example of perseverance against all odds, as things have definitely not been easy for the mother and entrepreneur. In addition to running her business, she also raises a teenage son who has cerebral palsy. Another one of her sons was killed a few months before she started the company in early 2010.

Jones tells CNBC she believes in local hiring and has a strong connection to her community. “As a black woman coming from a poverty area in San Francisco that is being changed, I am staying here and I am helping my community to rise up to be better,” she says. “And we can do it.”

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