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Google, Apple, Lyft and Ring: Shaquille O'Neal's Portfolio Shows the NBA Star Has the Midas Touch

A look at Shaq's impressive investing career and portfolio.



Shaquille O’Neal is best known for his incredible basketball career, from which he consistently makes anyone’s top 10 list of greatest players of all time. But his business acumen has slowly been taking center stage with a number of incredible investments since his retirement.


Many might know of his impressive portfolio of franchises from his regular appearances in various commercials. Shaq, across his career, has owned as many as 40 24-hour fitness gyms, 150 car washes, 155 Five Guys Burger & Fries, 9 Papa Johns, 17 Auntie Anne’s Pretzels and a few Krispy Kreme restaurants. He has sold some of these holdings over time, including all of his Five Guys holdings, so it’s not quite actively this expansive.


But potentially more impressive is Shaq’s venture portfolio. Investing in startups isn’t easy, with roughly 90% of startups failing over time. In fact, the number of companies reaching a valuation of over $1 billion is so rare they called them “unicorns.” So Shaq’s investments in Google, Lyft, Ring, Vitaminwater and others consistently make it an incredibly impressive feat.


Shaq’s Basketball Career: Shaq’s career started with his NBA Debut for the Orlando Magic in 1992, an organization he is now looking to buy. During his rookie year, he made $3 million dollar, won the Rookie of the Year Award, and rocketed to the forefront of sports news. Shaq played with the Magic till 1996, making about $17.4 million during his time with the team.


He left the magic to sign a $120 million dollar free-agent contract with the Los Angeles Lakers. By 2002, Shaq had earned over $100 million from his basketball career.


Shaq’s First Big VC Investment: Shaq reportedly first heard about Google from two Google employees in the lobby of the Beverly Hills Hotel. He overheard of this new technology where “you can type in anything” and the answer comes up. After a brief conversion, he knew he wanted to invest So Shaq’s agent introduced him to Ron Conway, a high-profile angel investor with a long list of impressive startup investments. Shortly after, Shaq was a proud investor in Google.


While his exact share price, or gains, weren’t reported, he likely made off incredibly well. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Shaq said his “only regret is that I wish I would have bought more.”


Shaq, The Venture Capitalist: But this was only the beginning for the now business magnate. Since then he has appeared in dozens of commercials, and invested in a wide range of companies. Around the same time as his Google invest, Shaq reportedly invested in Apple as well.

Later in 2013, Shaq invested in Lyft only a year after it was founded. Lyft later went public in 2019 at a valuation of $22 billion.


Just two years after Ring got kicked off Shark Tank without a deal, Shaq saw the potential and not only invested but also became a brand ambassador. Shaq appeared in a number of commercials for them. Ring was later acquired by Amazon for $1 billion.


His entire portfolio is incredibly expansive and impressive, but it’s even more impressive when you consider that 65% of NBA players go broke within 5 years of leaving.


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