Shaquille O’Neal is one of the NBA’s biggest success stories. Not only is he a legend on the court, but off he became a global superstar attached to several iconic properties across the worlds of television, film, fashion, music, and business. O’Neal spends most of his time these days on the small screen as an endearing TV personality, but that should not distract people from his enormous fortune in other realms. One of his most surprising wins is in the world of sneakers, where he managed to make millions despite not having the backing of a major shoe brand like his contemporaries.
Time for a pizza party! I’m excited to join @PapaJohns as a member of the Board of Directors and investor in 9 stores in #Atlanta. Excited to work with Papa John’s team members and customers – more here: https://t.co/PRXG7ORtFk pic.twitter.com/c5uj5BRuQ1— SHAQ (@SHAQ) March 22, 2019
One site declared Shaquille O’Neal the king of franchises, and they could be right. Shaq was a guest speaker at the International Franchise Association conference in San Diego last year, where he surprised the audience by revealing just how many different companies he has his hands in. He credited Magic Johnson for teaching him the power of investing off the court. Shaquille currently has a network of over $400 million, thanks to his portfolio. He is currently one of the five wealthiest men to come from the NBA, only preceded by Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Junior Bridgeman, and Lebron James, who has a net worth of $1 billion.
Amongst Shaq’s many businesses, he owns 155 Five Guys hamburger establishments (10% of the entire company), 17 Auntie Anne’s Pretzels restaurants, and nine Papa Jone’s Pizza Restaurants. O’Neal also owns 150 car washes, 40 24-hour gyms, and a movie theater in his native Newark; he also runs his own fast-food chain. He also launched Big Chicken brand Chicken Sandwiches, with 10 locations in Las Vegas, with plans to expand to Pheonix, Arizona, and Austin, Texas.
His business portfolio gets even more ridiculous when you look at the long list of endorsement deals he has to his name. This includes deals in the past with Burger King, Pepsi, Wheaties, Icy Hot, Taco Bell, Vitamin Water, and many, many more. Shaq also had a deal once with Reebok, but don’t expect to see his signature Shaq shoes at any Reebok stores. Despite offering him $40 million to create a line for the NBA vet, Shaq said a chance encounter with a fan made him rethink his sneaker-selling strategy.
Shaquille opened up in 2021 about the moment that convinced him he needed to focus on making a more affordable sneaker alternative to his peers. During an episode of the “Full Send” podcast, Shaq recalls the moment a fan approached him and called him an “MF’er.” He says the woman was upset at him for charging too much for sneakers targeted at kids. According to the former NBA player, after being verbally attacked, he handed the woman $2,000 and told her he does not control the pricing of his shoes. The woman didn’t want his money because she slapped it out of his hands and told him, “Why don’t you [MF’ers] make a shoe that’s affordable?” This inspired him to partner with Wal-Mart instead to make an affordable sneaker. “I started the Shaq brand. I went to my favorite store, Walmart, and we did a deal.” Shaq says that he eventually sold 150 million pairs at only $40 bucks.