Jun 1, 2020

Shaq and His Incredible Business Empire

Genevieve Montague

NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal has taken it upon himself to break a widely known jinx about professional athletes who have financial struggles after they retire. Shaq is part of a smaller percentage of professional athletes that have not experienced post-career money problems.

The star has managed to buck the trend by building himself a business empire since he retired almost a decade earlier. Research shows that a staggering 60% of NBA players go broke within the first five years after their retirement. But not Shaq.

After he retired in 2011, Shaq made various investments that will prove more lucrative than his 19-year basketball career — during which he had earned nearly $300 million.

Shaq Earned $292 Million Dollars During His NBA Career Alone – Source

Now, the NBA-Superstar-turned-entrepreneur makes more than the former $30-million-salary he was earning while playing sports professionally. With his impressive empire, he has invested in everything from the latest tech gadgets to fast-food restaurants. And then, there are the lucrative endorsements as well.

Shaq’s Business Acumen as a Franchise King

Shaq has since associated his name with several niches, but a niche everyone still associates him with is sports. Beyond being a fantastic athlete, Shaw has since built himself a franchise of gyms, owning an impressive 40 locations of 24 Hour Fitness. But in typical O’Neal fashion, ordinary gyms aren’t enough without him adding his personal touch. It was a great idea to build the franchise of gyms, and O’Neal gains a sizable amount of money from the franchise annually.

In addition to owning 40 gyms, according to the Hustle, he owns 150 car washes. He is also a minority owner of the Sacramento Kings.

Shaq’s Food Business

Shaq is on the Board of Papa John’s – Source

It’s common knowledge that Shaq owned some Five Guys restaurants, but did you know he owned 155 locations? Yes, 155! This means that at some point, he owned about 10% of the company’s franchise. He told CNBC that he had sold his shares, but the burger franchise was “very good” to him.

He has invested in Auntie Anne’s — a popular pretzel-making franchise — purchasing 17 stands across the nation. O’Neal also owns one Krispy Kreme branch in Atlanta and a Big Chicken restaurant in Las Vegas. He owns a Shaquille’s burger joint in LA — Shaq named the whole burger joint after himself!

In more recent news, Shaq is now on Papa John’s board of directors. He plans to invest in 9 stores near Atlanta, plus signing a 3-year endorsement deal worth $8.25 million to become the brand ambassador of the famous pizza franchise.

Besides being a successful fast food investor, a large portion of the revenue Shaquille makes annually from endorsements has to do with food — over $20 million. Food companies like Muscle Milk, Vitamin Water, Fruity Pebbles, and Arizona Cream Soda are some of the brands that have endorsed him.


One fact about Shaquille is — he only partners with brands that he uses. He has reportedly turned down endorsement deals from businesses such as Starbucks and Wheaties. He turned them down because he doesn’t eat them, and that goes against his policies.

Shaq’s Business in Technology

Shaq Carrying Bill Gates at a Microsoft Event in the Summer of 1995 – Source

Nobody knows for sure how Shaq became a Google investor before the company became public, but he did. Before they went public in 2004, the company traded at $85 per share. Now that they’re public, a share of Google stock costs around $800. Was this a brilliant business move for O’Neal? Totally!

Some of Shaq’s other investments are Loyal3— a new San Francisco company that gives access to IPO. He has also invested in Ring, a doorbell home security system. He received his profit from the investment when Amazon purchased the company for over $1 billion.

Shaquille O’Neal as a Realtor

Real estate is a huge source of income for many athletes. Some earn millions of dollars annually, and Shaq is no exception. In 2006, he created The O’Neal Group and invested in The Met Miami — a multistory residential building with over a thousand housing units.

In Las Vegas, he is the part-owner of several nightclubs. Shaq, of course, invested in his hometown, Newark, NJ. Also, he bought and renovated CityPlex12.

Personalizing His Investments

When he isn’t pushing other brands, Shaq sells his own products. They include Shaq sneakers, suits, a jewelry line, and even children’s books —”Little Shaq.” He has DJ’ed, starred in TV commercials for brands like Icy Hot and Oreos. He has even rapped and starred in movies.

There seems to be nothing Shaq can’t do. But not without a common theme — O’Neal believes his businesses must enrich the lives of others and be fun. He once said on HBO Real Sports:


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