Shaquille O'Neal is one of basketball's biggest stars, and certainly perhaps the best known. An amicable man who looms over almost everyone but treats the world with gentleness and kindness, Shaq is a one in a billion guy who's known for his work with charitable causes (like The Shaq Foundation).
But did you know he's also a successful businessman and entrepreneur? The man known as Diesel doesn't just have superhuman instincts on the basketball court, they extend to other areas of his life. By the way - he's also a top-tier DJ.
Here are some of his most successful business ventures, and how he became the double-whammy superstar of basketball legend and business mogul he is today.
Big Businesses Owned by Big Diesel
First, let's take a look the businesses that make up Shaq's portfolio; it's pretty impressive.
According to NBC Sports, "He is the joint owner of 155 Five Guys Burgers restaurants, 17 Auntie Annie's Pretzels restaurants, 150 car washes, 40 24-hour fitness centers, a shopping center, a movie theater, and several Las Vegas nightclubs."
And there's more; O'Neal has playfully hinted to Earn Your Leisure, "I don't like to seem like I'm bragging, but I'm going to ask you a question. Who owns Marilyn Monroe? Who owns Elvis Presley? Who owns Forever 21? Who owns JCPenney? Me!"
But Shaq's most famous venture outside of the court that hit it big? Google.
Vanity Fair reports that around the turn of the millennium, "Shaq already knew about Google, and it seemed like a good business to him. He remembered hearing Amazon founder Jeff Bezos say that, if you invest in things that make the world a better place, it’ll always be a good deal. A search engine, type in anything you want, and it pops up? That’s gonna be the business of the future, Shaq thought. After his agent introduced him to fellow Google investor Ron Conway—a pioneer of Silicon Valley angel investing thanks to his early outlays in the search giant and others including PayPal, Twitter, Dropbox, and Airbnb—Shaq plowed in some cash."
O'Neal's early round investment seems to be to the tune of around $100M (although the exact number is unclear), and within a decade of Google going public in 2004, $1 invested in the company had turned into $15 - so you can do the math. His only regret? Not investing more in the beginning.
O'Neal doesn't like to talk numbers - he says his mother taught him to be humble - but it's clear that he figured out how to leverage his fame to get in on the ground floor of some big companies, including Ring, IdeaLab and more. All he has to do is wait for investment opportunities to come to him; after all, he brings cash, fame, and a history of success - who wouldn't want their business tied to his wings?
How did he Go from Basketballer to Baller Businessman?
Shaq rocketed to basketball superstardom as the star player of the Los Angeles Lakers. As a player, he raked in the dough with millions per season.
But instead just living it up and watching the money evaporate, O'Neal turned around and invested it wisely - with an instinct many entrepreneurs could envy.
Even if you don't recognize him from his time on the court or his movie appearances, you're sure to recognize Shaq from the myriad of commercials he appears in. It's hard to go a few days without running across his friendly face on the television - and that's all part of his grander strategy to make his money work smart for him. NBC Sports writes, "O'Neal has spoken on behalf of -- to name just a few -- a sleep apnea mask, a sugar substitute, Soupman, Zales, Muscle Milk, Shaq Fu Punch, Chris Christie, Dunkman shoes, Dove, Nintendo, Macy's, JC Penney, Comcast, Monster speakers, LiNing shoes, NBA 2k, Gold Bond, a vodka brand, Buick, Taco Bell, Nestle Crunch, Icy Hot, Pepsi, Wheaties, Oreos and Burger King." And that's a non-exhaustive list; there are more companies with Shaq's endorsement fueling their success.
So in essence, O'Neal figured out how to take the money he earned on the court, invest it, help it grow - and capitalize on his fame.
It's an option all athletes could choose since fame is the most vital component. But what O'Neal has done is somewhat unique.
The secret to his success may be the fact that he genuinely enjoys life, and enjoys the pursuits he engages in. His passion, drive and enthusiasm make him not just fascinating to watch on court back in the day - but the kind of celeb you keep your eyes peeled for.
If you know Shaq is about to headline an event, it gets your attention - not because he's famous, but because he's fun. That's why he's been able to skate smoothly from court to boardroom to the DJ deck and beyond - and there's no stopping him now.