Sports Illustrated reported that, within five years of retirement, an estimated 60% of former NBA players are broke.
This story came out back in 2009 when Shaquille O’Neal, aka The Big Aristotle, was playing alongside LeBron in Cleveland. Shaq would go on to retire two years later after a lucrative 19-year career and, unlike 60% of his former colleagues, he probably wasn’t worried about running out of cash.
That’s because, along with being one of the all-time greats in pro basketball, The Big Shaqtus has a surprisingly diverse off-the-court investment portfolio. Guess he got a good accountant after famously spending his first million dollars within 45 minutes of getting his first big check.
Now his net worth exceeds $350 million and, even though he’s retired from the NBA, he still manages to pull in $22 million a year through endorsement deals with the likes of AriZona Cream Soda, Icy Hot, Gold Bond, Buick, and Zales.
The best part is his investment philosophy itself. Simply put, he only gets involved if he personally likes the company or product. For example, Wheaties wanted to put him on the box but he refused because he didn’t eat the cereal. Instead, he went with Fruity Pebbles.
And how he turned down investing in Starbucks because, in his own words, “growing up in my household, I had never seen a black person drink coffee. So it was my thought process that black people didn’t drink coffee… In my house it was always sweet tea or hot chocolate.”
Clearly he’s entrepreneurial and has his size 23 feet in a lot of different pies. The complete list is way too long, so here are my favorite Shaq investments that you should probably know about (in no particular order):
Pre-IPO Google stock
It’s unclear how much he actually got his hands on, but it’s safe to say this was a win. Google IPO’d in 2004 at $85 / share, now they’re at $700.
17 Auntie Anne’s Pretzels restaurants
You know, the ones in the mall with huge chunks of salt and that gross nacho cheese sauce that you have to get but always hate.
150 car washes
Because everyone has to impress on a first date.
155 Five Guys Burgers and Fries franchises
Shaq owns over 10% of the company’s entire franchise portfolio.
40 24 Hour Fitness gyms
Affordable, convenient, good for your health.
Las Vegas nightclubs
At least part of what happens in Vegas goes into Shaq’s pocket.
A movie theater
In 2012 he bought and renovated the CityPlex12 theater in his hometown of Newark, NJ.
The Met Miami
At 866-foot-tall complex in downtown Miami, it’s the tallest residential high-rise south of NYC and has over a thousand units.
Bought by Hormel in 2014 for $450 million.
Bought by Coca-Cola in 2007 for $4.1 billion.
A brokerage startup out of San Francisco that gives individual investors access to IPOs.
Needless to say, The Diesel’s doing well for himself on the investment front, which I guess means he has good taste.
Most of the time…
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