After almost two decades of making and breaking records in the NBA, Shaquille O'Neal hung up his size-23 sneakers back in 2011. 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.
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. 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, a chain of car washes, several fitness centers, three Las Vegas nightclubs, and a number of Auntie Anne's pretzel stands. Here's a rundown of some of the biggest highlights related to the former pro-basketball player.
- Former NBA star Shaquille O'Neal is among the highest paid basketball players in history, earning an estimated $700 million.
- O'Neal has also raked in millions from product endorsements including Aventis' Icy Hot pain-relief patch, VitaminWater, Burger King, Pepsi, and Taco Bell.
- Shaq invested in a number of Papa Johns locations in Atlanta and joined the pizza chain's team, agreeing to promote the brand for $8.25 million.
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. So there's no wonder why he was one of the highest paid basketball players in history—just after Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant.
Shaquille O'Neal was one of the highest earning players on the court, trailing Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant.
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. And you've probably seen him in tv ads for The General Automobile Insurance Services—commonly known as The General.
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.
Oh, and 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.
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 the 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. He played for six pro teams in all—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— The average points and rebounds per game by Shaq, respectively.
32, 33, 34 & 36—Numbers he wore on pro jerseys during his career.
13,099 & 28,596—The total number of 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 million—The 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 of them were panned by the critics, but that hardly made a dent in O'Neal's celebrity status.
Pizza chain Papa Johns announced Shaq was joining its board of directors in 2019. O'Neal agreed to invest $800,000 in nine of the company's restaurants in the Atlanta area, in exchange for a 30% stake in those locations. The company also plans to pay him $8.25 million in both cash and stock to promote the Papa Johns brand.
And just like many other retired athletes, Shaq has also delved into the fashion world. Not only has he teamed up with JC Penney for his own menswear brand, Shaquille O’Neal XLG, he also partnered with model agency Wilhelmina Models in 2019 for Shaquille O'Neal's Big & Tall Model Search in order to fill a gap for the male modeling industry.
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.