On Aug. 15, 2023, an online video purported to show NBA star LeBron James listening to "Rich Men North of Richmond" by Oliver Anthony. The claim spread as the song went viral, having reached the top of Apple Music's Top 100 USA chart at the time of this writing. The song has also been highly debated, with publications like Forbes, Rolling Stone and The Washington Post linking its success to the efforts right-wing influencers and pundits.
"Didn't have @KingJames supporting @AintGottaDollar and 'Rich Men North of Richmond' on my bingo card but here we are," wrote an X (formerly Twitter) user on Aug. 15, 2023. Attached to the post was a video that appeared to show James driving while listening to the song.
— Benjamin Alkire (@benjamindalkire) August 15, 2023
The claim wasn't true. While the video was authentic, the song James was listening to wasn't "Rich Men North of Richmond." Instead, he was listening to "This Place Hotel (a.k.a. Heartbreak Hotel)" by The Jacksons, formerly known as the Jackson 5.
We found the original, unaltered video posted to James' official Instagram account on Aug. 14, 2023:
The post's caption said:
Love being back in my backyard and just cruising around with no care in the world!!!! MJ going strong and stank face on!! #ThekidfromAKRON🤴🏾 Thank you to Life itself! 👑 s/o @vintagebroncos for my sick ride too! 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥
Upon noticing that the caption mentioned "MJ," we searched for songs by Michael Jackson that included the lyric, "This is heartbreak hotel," which we heard James singing along to in the video.
Upon searching, we found the audio version of "This Place Hotel (a.k.a. Heartbreak Hotel)" on The Jacksons' YouTube channel, which clearly matched the song James was listening to in the video he posted to Instagram:
We also found TikTok posts that correctly identified the song:
Because we found James was listening to a song by The Jacksons, not "Rich Men North of Richmond" by Oliver Anthony, we rate the video as Miscaptioned. We've previously fact-checked other claims about James, such as the rumor he had requested to be traded from the Lakers.