The Shaq Foundation had its first fundraising gala this year, and the star power was as immense as its leader Shaquille O’Neal. Raising $2.7 million, The Event Presented by Pepsi Stronger Together featured performances from Andra Day, Kelly Clarkson, Imagine Dragons and Justin Bieber, the highlight perhaps was when Shaq himself took the stage beside Snoop Dogg to perform the rapper’s hit song, “Nuthin But a G Thang.” It was a night of merriment and success as money was raised to benefit Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Communities in Schools throughout Las Vegas and Atlanta. CELEB takes a look at the highlights from the star-studded evening.
The Shaq Foundation Concert
Shaq and Snoop hitting the stage together to sing “Nuthin But a G Thang”? Sign us up. The Shaq Foundation concert went forward on October 2, and it was a resounding success. Held at the MGM Grand Las Vegas, the concert event was one of 2021’s “return to normal” success stories. Late night superstar Jimmy Kimmel was the emcee, and he brought back some favorite NSFW jokes from that time he roasted Shaq two decades ago.
People writes, “Bieber, arguably the most buzzed about performer of the night, was the penultimate act, taking the stage in a denim jacket and sunglasses. Although he didn’t address the crowd, he thrilled them with a five-song set, most of which were from his newest album, Justice.”
But a story from Clarkson inspired emotion from the audience. Shaq has long talked about his motives for starting his foundation, and how important it is to him to give back to children who need support through the Boys and Girls Club. Per People, Clarkson had to touch on why his motive resonates so much with her personally; “‘Shaq mentioned that he couldn’t afford daycare, his family couldn’t afford day care. Mine couldn’t either. My mom just happened to work there so I got in for free,’ she said. ‘But I love doing events like this, and I love hearing from artists. Everyone sees where we’re at. They don’t see where we came from, and everybody need a helping hand, everybody needs opportunity. I was one of those kids that grew up on hand-me-downs.”
Items Auctioned for Charity
It wasn’t just about music, though. Several items were auctioned off for charity and include a $90K auction won by Shaq for a walk-on appearance in an upcoming Adam Sandler film. O’Neal joked, “Adam, if you’re here, I’ve come a long way since Kazaam. I’ll pay you to be in your movie.”
Other items which sold included tickets to a Laker game as well as a championship ring, a South African safari and the opportunity to attend a UFC fight with Dana White, among other unbelievable offerings. A detailed collage, acrylic paint and sculpture work from Brooklyn-based artist Dustin Yellin piece called “Moonshot” sold for a staggering $150K. The final total for the night was just over $2.7 million, bringing in enough money to help continue the mission of Boys & Girls Clubs of America and to help support schools in districts such as Atlanta and Las Vegas.
The Shaq Foundation
If you’re not familiar, The Shaq Foundation is a non-profit created in 2019 by the NBA Hall of Famer, television sports analyst and entrepreneur to instill hope and bring about change in communities, collectively shaping a brighter future for our children. Because O’Neal is familiar with the struggles of family trying to afford the necessities of childcare, the mission of the the Boys & Girls Clubs of America is near and dear to his heart. The Foundation will simultaneously support Shaquille’s other charitable endeavors, such as his annual Shaq-a-Claus holiday event and initiatives alongside his corporate partners.
The website explains the Foundation’s mission; “The Shaquille O’Neal Foundation creates pathways for underserved youth, to help them achieve their full potential.” It’s a noble cause, and they’re one step further along the journey after such a successful event.
Additional sponsors for “The Event Presented by Pepsi Stronger Together” included Alkaline88, Dollar Loan Center, Engelstad Foundation, JCPenney, PLAYSTUDIOS and Wynn Resorts.