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The Franchise King: How Shaq Makes Millions in Everyday Businesses

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Four championship rings and a bigger than life persona has made Shaquille O’Neal a legend in the world of basketball. But Shaq has quietly become a legend in the business world too by investing in everyday businesses that bring him millions every year.

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Shaquille O’Neal was not always financially savvy. Like countless athletes that suddenly come into a lot of money, he blew through his early NBA earnings pretty fast. In fact, he has told the story of him getting his first NBA check and spending a million dollars in a day at the age of 20! 

But that hardly broke Shaq’s financial back as he was signed to a $120 million, 7 year contract with the Lakers in 1995. After a long career with the Lakers, Miami Heat, and Phoenix Suns, Shaq is believed to have earned an estimated $292 million in his basketball career. 

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But Shaq didn’t just lay back and enjoy his fortunes in retirement. In fact, he jumped right into a super successful business career and he attributes that to learning from greats like Magic Johnson and Jeff Besos when it comes to business. Magic told Shaq about the importance of owning things and Besos inspired Shaq to only invest in things that can change people’s lives. 

Shaq also picked up a few business books and began to educate himself. In fact, Shaq went on to get his Master’s degree in business after feeling left out in business meetings. And he even paid for 15 of his friends to earn their master’s for one quirky reason. 

Shaq was already diversifying his income before he even left the NBA like most successful players do by signing endorsement deals and even getting into acting. Remember “Kazaam”? 

After all the fame and fortune, you would think a man with a celebrity status like Shaq would invest in flashy businesses, but what Shaq has done is accumulate diverse, everyday businesses that earn him millions everyday. So let’s take a look at these everyday businesses the basketball legend has invested in. 

Shaq’s first significant investment in a franchise was in the burger chain Five Guys. Shaq at one time owned 155 Five Guys franchises, totaling $100 million in investment. That amounted to more than 10% of the company’s franchise portfolio at the time. In 2016, Shaq sold every single one of his Five Guys locations for an undisclosed amount. 

I’m sure you’ve seen Shaq in those Papa John’s commercials but he’s more than just a face for the company. Shaq owns 9 Papa John’s restaurants in and around the Atlanta area. He has also served as a board member since 2019. 

Other food frenchies Shaq has owned over the years include Krispy Kreme and Auntie Anne’s. 

Shaq’s next stop in the food industry was starting up his own fast casual restaurant chain named Big Chicken. Big Chicken restaurants specialize in Louisiana style fried chicken sandwiches that Shaq loves. This chain was founded in 2018 and currently has 18 locations with many more opening up soon across the country. 

But fast food is not the only everyday business that Shaq has invested in. The franchise king also owned 40 24-Hour Fitness gyms and 150 car washes. Yes, Shaq invested in car washes and 150 of them! 

You know a savvy investor like Shaq doesn’t just stop at just owning franchises. He has also invested in several other companies like Reebok, Ring, Google, Pepsi, Apple, Vitaminwater, The General Insurance, Gold Bond, Lyft, and many more. 

Today, Shaq’s net worth is believed to be at an impressive $400 million. 

So what can we little people learn from Shaq’s giant business moves?

One of Shaq’s biggest business rules is to invest in products and businesses he believes in. Speaking on this rule, Shaq said, “If something comes across my desk and I don’t believe in it, I don’t even look at it.” It’s no secret that when you’re passionate about a business idea or you wholeheartedly believe in the service or product you’re backing, you’re likely to work harder or stick with it through tough times. So when you’re considering investing in a business or starting up a side hustle, ask yourself how much you believe in what you’re doing. 

Another one of Shaq’s strategies, and this is a big one, is that whenever he is asked to be a face of a company or product, he often takes a share of the business to do so. That means when sales go up due to his advertising, he gets a cut of that income, which over time is likely to surpass what he would have been just paid outright for being just a face. That’s the power of ownership. Like Magic Johnson once told Shaq, fame is cool but ownership is where the big game is. 

And one last lesson is, don’t overlook businesses that are not glamorous or cool, like car washes. The most sensible businesses might be the ones you’re overlooking.