After 19 years of making and breaking records in the NBA, Shaquille O'Neal hung up his size-23 sneakers back in 2011. But it's now clear that he was just getting started on his second career as a full-time entrepreneur and celebrity spokesman. Years after his retirement, he is estimated to be earning $25 million to $30 million per year.
Don't forget, Shaq earned his undergraduate degree in business and went on to get an MBA and a Ph.D. That's right, he's Dr. Shaq.
In addition to his ubiquitous commercial appearances for Icy Hot pain patches, O'Neal has endorsed about 50 products so far in his career as a celebrity spokesman.
What is less known is that O'Neal's private business ventures include ownership, with partners, of 155 Five Guys Burgers joints plus a chain of car washes, several fitness centers, three Las Vegas nightclubs, and a number of Auntie Anne's pretzel stands.
From the moment he first stepped onto the pro basketball scene in 1992, Shaq was big news, in more ways than one. Cutting an imposing figure at 7-feet-1, 325 pounds, Shaq overwhelmed opponents with his immense size and skill, and quickly became a fan favorite with his even bigger personality. He drew the largest rookie contract in sports history at the time when the Orlando Magic dished out $41 million for his services over seven years.
The Magic's gamble on the big man was a success, based on his performance with the team. The Magic won 20 more games than in the previous season during his rookie year. It made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history in his second season. It reached the NBA Finals the next year and the Eastern Conference finals the next. And attendance figures rose in each of those years.
Shaq has also raked in millions from product endorsements, including Aventis' Icy Hot pain-relief patch, VitaminWater, Burger King, Kraft Foods, Pepsi, Comcast, Radio Shack, and Taco Bell.
Shaq enjoys spending, too. According to documents released during his divorce proceedings in 2009, Shaq's expenses were about $875,000 monthly, including $110,000 for food, $24,300 for gas for his dozens of cars, and $6,730 in dry cleaning.
Here is a quick peek at Shaq by the numbers:
By the Numbers
1 - Shaq was the number one overall draft pick in by the Orlando Magic in 1992 after being a two-time All-American and being named NCAA Player of the year in 1991 while he was playing for Louisiana State University. He also earned NBA MVP in 2000 while playing for the Los Angeles Lakers.
4, 5 & 6 - He earned four NBA championships. He's fifth on the all-time scoring list behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Michael Jordan, and Wilt Chamberlain. In all, he played for six pro teams (Orlando Magic, L.A. Lakers, Miami Heat. Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Boston Celtics).
10 - Of his 1,207 game appearances, he did not start in only 10.
15 - Number of times he was named to the NBA All-Star teams
23 - His shoe size
23.7 & 10.9 - Average points and rebounds per game, respectively
32, 33, 34 & 36 - Numbers he wore on pro jerseys during his career
13,099 & 28,596 - Number of total career rebounds and points scored, respectively
80 million - How many pairs of sneakers under the Shaq and Dunkman labels (both owned by O'Neal) were sold in 15 years. O'Neal started his own line of affordable sneakers, priced under $40 a pair after a fan pointed out to him that star-endorsed shoes were just too expensive for many of his fans.
$700,000,000 - Salary earned over his pro career, as estimated by Forbes for its list of highest-paid athletes of all time.
Shaquille O'Neal also made it big off the court, releasing six rap albums, one of which went platinum. He has appeared in several television shows as himself as well as in music videos and was on the big screen in feature films including Kazaam, Blue Chips, and DC Comics' Steel. (All were panned by the critics, but that hardly made a dent in O'Neal's celebrity status.)
The Bottom Line
Shaquille O'Neal was inducted into the basketball Hall of Fame back in 2016, but his time in the spotlight is hardly over. His nearly 15 million Twitter followers won't let him slip away so easily.