Back when I grew up in the 90s, Shaquille O’Neal was viewed as a dominant NBA center with a charismatic and sometimes silly personality. You could find Shaq in movies like Kazaam in addition to video games. Of course who could forget his timeless rap album titled Shaq Diesel? Shaq has always had a knack for capturing the spotlight.
But did you know that Shaq has evolved into successful entrepreneur post NBA? That’s right. Shaq is an active businessman and investor in several top U.S. corporations such as Apple, General Electric, and PepsiCo. He is presently involved in several food franchises like Krispy Kreme, Papa John’s, and Auntie Anne’s Pretzels. Shaq was also formerly a part-owner of 155 Five Guys restaurants.
Since retiring from professional basketball, Shaquille O’Neal has made so much dough that he’s now worth a reported $400 million. Find out the franchises and other business Shaq is investing in below. And if you’d like to be like Shaq, complete our 7-minute franchise quiz to be matched with an opportunity that’s right for your skillset.
Shaq’s Food Franchise Investments
O’Neal stated in front of more than 3,000 franchise professionals at the International Franchise Association’s 2022 Annual Convention that he wanted to succeed in business instead of becoming “one of the 60% of NBA players who go broke after leaving the game.”
Across his investment portfolios, Shaq has built generational wealth and inspires others to do the same. The legendary basketball player was a founding partner of Majority, an advertising firm with a diverse clientele that utilizes a diversity led talent model.
As mentioned earlier, Shaq has experience owning several food franchises. Here are a few businesses Shaq has a stake in.
The American chain of doughnut shops Krispy Kreme was established in 1937. Numerous doughnut varieties are available at Krispy Kreme, along with coffee, beverages, and merchandise. Currently, there are more than 350 Krispy Kreme locations in the United States, and more will open as a result of Shaq’s involvement.
O’Neal acquired the fabled Krispy Kreme shop at 295 Ponce de Leon Avenue in Atlanta in late 2016. O’Neal also serves as the company’s official spokesperson to help promote the chain.
Papa John’s Pizza
In terms of pizza delivery services, Papa John’s is ranked third in the country. John Schnatter established the company in 1984. There are more than 5,000 Papa John’s restaurants in existence today.
O’Neal invested in nine restaurants in the Atlanta region when he first joined the board of directors of Papa John’s in early 2019. As part of the three-year deal, Shaq also assumed the role of business spokeswoman. See a trend here?
This happened immediately following the contentious disclosure of their former CEO. These nine Papa John’s locations still belong to Shaq as of 2024. Given his success with Five Guys, Shaq’s Pizza appears to be a franchising empire in the making. It is reasonable to expect that Shaq will open more sites given his contract with Papa John’s, which includes a $11 million compensation plan. Papa John’s has also signed him a deal that they’ll give him a royalty payment of 20 cents for every Shaqaroni Pizza sold.
American fast-food restaurant franchise Five Guys offers a variety of French fries and hamburgers. Jerry and Janie Murrell established the business in 1986 as a 30-location small, family-run franchise. Since then, the company has grown to include over 1,800 stores in both domestic and foreign markets.
In 2008, Shaq bought a Five Guys restaurant in Atlanta, which was the beginning of his involvement with the company. Shaq acquired 155 Five Guys restaurants, but eventually sold off the assets.
Auntie Anne’s Pretzel
Soft pretzels that are freshly baked and sensually aromatic are Auntie Anne’s specialty. Pretzel dogs, pretzel bits, and beverages are also offered by this chain that’s often found in US malls. Since its founding in 1988, Auntie Anne’s has expanded to approximately 1,954 locations in malls and major transportation hubs (such as airports and railway stations) all over the world.
Considering that each Auntie Anne’s costs about $148,575 – $572,100 to open, O’Neal apparently owns seventeen sites, including ones in Michigan and Buffalo, New York. This raises the total value of his investment to almost $9.7 million. However, according to Shaq in his interview in the “Earn Your Leisure” podcast, the entrepreneurs already sold off all his Auntie Anne’s franchises too.
Shaq’s Fitness Franchise Investments
Though not comparable to his food franchises, the 4x NBA champ has also dabbled in fitness centers. This can be attributed to the fact that Shaq is an athlete that spent 19 seasons as a professional athlete in the NBA. Let us now look into his lone fitness brand franchise.
Shaq has invested in 24-Hour Fitness, a global operator of wellness clubs. The largest fitness center operator in the world, 24-Hour Fitness has more than 430 facilities around the country and its headquarters are in San Ramon, California. Since he originally joined the 24-Hour Fitness team as a brand ambassador in 2013, Shaquille O’Neal has been associated with the company. Shaq joined the company’s board of directors in 2016 and in 2019 he was appointed a strategic advisor to the organization.
Shaq reportedly owns 40 locations of the 24-Hour Fitness Centers across the country at the time of writing. This shows Big Diesel’s commitment to ongoing fitness even in retirement.
Shaq’s Other Business Investments
Are these franchises only Shaq’s business interests? Definitely not. As I mentioned earlier, Shaq has invested in Apple, PepsiCo, and General Electric. Shaq also has interests in Google Inc AKA Alphabet. In 2014, Shaq disclosed that in 2004, he had put $1 million into each of Google and Apple. This investment led to significant returns for the investor.
The 4x NBA champion’s business apparently doesn’t stop there. Here’s a list of other investments Shaq has made through the years.
Shaq is no stranger in the league, giving way to his part-ownership of one of its teams and being a competitor during his time in the NBA. Sacramento Kings is a Sacramento, California-based American basketball franchise.
The Kings are a part of the Pacific Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association. Sacramento is home to just the Kings, one of the top professional sports leagues in North America. Since 2013, Shaq has owned a minor portion of the Sacramento Kings. Shaq belongs to a group that owns about 5% of the team.
eSports is a competitive video game platform that has recently gained popularity. Numerous businesses, including Coca-Cola, Red Bull, and Intel, support eSports competitions. NRG eSports, an American esports team that competes in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch, Fortnite Battle Royale, Rocket League, and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, has Shaq as a minority owner. NRG eSports was created in 2015. Shaq joined shortly there after with a 2016 investment in the business.
Outside of franchises, Shaq invested in his very own restaurant called Big Chicken. Shaq is the majority owner of the restaurant that was founded in 2018. Shaq says he plans to expand the business. In this business venture, Shaq collaborated with the brand development and entertainment company Authentic Brands as well as the catering and events company JRS Hospitality.
The menu at Big Chicken boasts strong flavors combined with hearty, homemade versions of customers’ favorite childhood dishes. A selection of specialty sandwiches is available on the Big Chicken menu. Included in this is the Big and Sloppy sandwich, which also comes with onion rings, macaroni and cheese, and barbecue aioli sauce. The Uncle Jerome is a chicken sandwich with lettuce, mayo, and pickles that are themed after Nashville and are perfect for people who prefer their sandwiches to be a little bit hotter.
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The NBA icon wanted to run a business so that he could support himself once his playing days were over, thus he was motivated to expand the brand. In interviews, Shaq has said that his mother emphasized education and having a safety net.
Based in San Francisco, California, Lyft is an American transportation service startup that operates in 640 American cities as well as 9 Canadian cities. Logan Green and John Zimmer launched the business in June 2012 with the goal of enhancing people’s lives with the best road transport available.
In 2013, Shaq made his first investment in Lyft when it was still a startup. As the business grew and achieved greater success, Shaq continued to put more money into it. Lyft would eventually be valued at $23.4 billion when the company went public in 2019.
Amazon owns Ring LLC, a business that provides smart home security. The Ring Video Doorbell smart doorbell is one of the outdoor surveillance camera-equipped home security solutions that Ring manufactures. Neighbors is an app that allows users to share video footage with each other online in a social setting. On-demand, Ring gives law enforcement organizations access to the video footage from its cameras and the data from its Neighbors app.
Jamie Siminoff founded Ring as Doorbot in 2013. Through Christie Street, the crowdsourcing platform for Doorbot, more than the $250,000 intended was raised—$364,000. The same year, Siminoff and Doorbot appeared on a Shark Tank episode to ask for a $700,000 investment in the business, which he estimated to be worth $7 million. Siminoff received a proposal from possible investor Kevin O’Leary, but Siminoff turned it down. Siminoff revamped the business after appearing on Shark Tank, and it saw a $5 million increase in sales.
Shaq bought a share of Ring’s equity in 2016 and he later joined the company’s marketing strategy as a brand ambassador.
Energy Brands distributes the mineral water brand Vitaminwater, which debuted in 2000. Coca-Cola purchased the brand name in 2007 after it had been developed in 1996. Shaq has long been a fan of Vitaminwater, and he even created his own flavor, “Shaq Fu Punch,” which he originally collaborated with in 2008. Since then, he has made numerous appearances in their ad campaigns.
How Many Franchises Does Shaq Own? How Many Total Businesses?
Shaq built a commercial empire since his professional basketball career was over, making money from both his own unique initiatives and other corporate endeavors. The Big Diesel has a substantial and diversified investment portfolio that includes 50 distinct companies.
Here’s a snapshot of Shaq’s franchises, his total number of stores, and Shaq’s other business interests we haven’t mentioned yet.
- Krispy Kreme Donuts – 1 (In Atlanta that’s nearly 60 years old.)
- Papa John’s – 9 store locations
- Auntie Anne’s Pretzel – 17 restaurants (Recently sold)
- 24-Hour Fitness – 40 fitness centers
- Car Wash – 150 car wash locations
- Five Guys Burgers (Sold) – 155 restaurants
Here’s a graphical representation of the franchised businesses Shaq has owned at some point:
What franchises does Shaq own?
Shaq’s other business interests include the following companies:
- CityPlex12 Movie Theater
- Shaquille (Self-established restaurant)
- Sacramento Kings (minority owner)
- Lyft (investor)
- Apple (investor)
- Pepsi (investor)
- Google (investor)
- Big Chicken
- Forever 21
- Gold Bond
- Icy Hot
- Elvis Presley
- The General
- Marilyn Monroe
- NRG eSports (investor)
- Ring (investor)
Does Shaq Own JCPenny and Forever 21?
JCPenney and Forever 21 are included in Shaq’s list of business interests. JCPenney and Forever 21 are under the Authentic Brands Group together with other retail brands such as Reebok (which Shaq was a former endorser), and Barneys New York.
Since 2015, Shaq has owned interests in the Authentic Brands Group. The first step was when the business acquired the rights to 50 percent of Shaq’s name brand. The Big Diesel then made the decision to immediately reinvest the proceeds of that deal in Authentic Brands Group. Shaq rose to the position of second-largest stakeholder in the company as a result of this move.
Thus according to accounts, Shaq is the second-highest shareholder of the Authentic Brands Group. Due to the aforementioned investment, Shaq is now second in command in terms of who owns the brands that are part of the Authentic Brands Group. He continues to follow Authentic Brands Group CEO and billionaire entrepreneur Jamie Salter.
In an interview with the “Earn Your Leisure” podcast, Shaq had this to say about his businesses:
“I don’t like to seem like I’m bragging, but I’m going to ask you a question. Who owns Marilyn Monroe? Who owns Elvis Presley? Who owns Forever 21? Who owns JCPenney? Me!”
Shaq’s Net Worth and Investing Strategy
Shaq is said to be worth $400 million, or a little around €380 million. Only Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Junior Bridgeman, and Lebron James, who has a net worth of $1 billion, are among the top five NBA players in terms of wealth. Shaq belongs to this elite group of multi-million NBA players.
The multi-titled NBA champion has acknowledged in interviews that he has always realized money might vanish as soon as it appeared. 60% of past NBA players file for bankruptcy within five years of retiring, according to a Sports Illustrated research. Players like Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman have met this fate.
Basketball alone brought The Big Diesel upwards of $292 million (€277 million) when he left the NBA, and he also made an additional $220 million (€209 million) in deals and ads for companies like Reebok, Pepsi, and Oreos. Shaq had made his significant investment—buying Google stocks—before bidding farewell to the courts, though.
Shaq said in the same discussion that he never made an investment or promoted a business whose goods he wouldn’t personally use. This is the key to his success as an entrepreneur. Shaq said, “My skill is, if something comes across my desk, and I don’t believe in it, I won’t even look at it”. The four-time NBA champion claimed that Wheaties, a competitor of Frosted Flakes, had approached him about becoming the face of the brand, but he had declined since he favored the latter; he would, later on, be seen on Wheaties cereal boxes.
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Sharing some takeaways from his interview with the “Earn Your Leisure” podcast, Shaq said in reference to some guys he talked to about Google back in 2004, “It’s always important to have somebody smarter than you, that works for you. If you’re the smartest guy in the room, there’s a problem.” He also said that “Everybody in this room is already a CEO. You don’t have to own a business to be a CEO, being a CEO is a mentality.
If you have that mentality, if you have that belief, it will work.” Shaq said that one of his motivators was that his mother did the chores, go to work, come home, cook dinner, and never complained saying, “I never wanted to be rich, I just wanted to be able to buy my mother everything she wants.” The Big Diesel said that sometimes his kids don’t understand him when he says, “We ain’t rich, I’m rich. You gotta have bachelor’s or master’s and then if you want me to invest in one of your companies, you gotta have to present it, bring it to me, I’ll let you know, I’m not giving you nothing.”
Former NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal, popularly known as Shaq, is one of those generational talents who hardly comes into the NBA today. Away from the court, Shaq has made a name for himself on the big screen with such films as Kazaam (1996), Steel (1997), and Scary Movie 4 back in 2006. Today, he still appears in certain films and TV series either as an actor or doing a cameo appearance. Shaq is also one of the color commentators and producers of the hugely popular show, Inside the NBA, along with Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, and Kenny Smith. To say Shaq has a diversified income stream would be a gross understatement.
In conclusion, I’d argue Shaq is better at business than he ever was shooting free-throws in the NBA. Alright, that’s a bit of a low blow, but I had to go there. I’m looking forward to watching Shaq’s growing list of business accomplishments just like I watched him on the hardwood so many years ago.