Last Updated on March 26, 2021 by Mark Ferguson
Shaq became famous as a basketball player, a very large basketball player! He was 7-1 and was well over 300 pounds when he was playing in the NBA. Not only is he one of the best basketball players of all time but is a real estate investor as well. He has also been a major part of many other businesses like Ring doorbells, Five Guys Franchise, and he was an early investor in Google. After leaving the NBA, he has become even more involved in real estate and been a part of some very large deals! It is hard to find the exact information on what Shaq has done real estate-wise, but he has given hints over the years in interviews on how he started and what he is involved in. From what I could find out he started by flipping houses with a partner in New Jersey. He has also been involved in low-income housing in Denver and done deals in Florida as well. He currently is focusing on large projects in the New Jersey area where he spent time as a kid.
Where did Shaq live growing up?
Shaq was born in New Jersey and his father was a basketball player as well. However, his father had drug problems and was never a part of Shaq’s life. Shaq did have a stepfather who was in the army and Shaq ended up living in Texas and Germany as a kid because of his stepfather’s career. Shaq ended up going to high school in San Antonio and leading his team to a state championship. Shaq was a always big kid. He was 6-6 when he was 13! I was 6-1 when I was 13, but I stopped growing at 13 and Shaw did not.
It is important to know where Shaq grew up because it impacted his real estate investing later on. He was not a real estate investing just to make money. As he said on CNBC Make It:
“I don’t invest in companies just to try and get the big hit,” “I [invest] because I know it’s going to change people’s ideas… change people’s lives.”
How did Shaq blow his first million?
Shaq had an amazing interview with Daymond John (The Shark Tank) about how he spent a million dollars the first day he made it. He spent $150,000 on a Mercedes for himself, then his dad wanted a car so he bought him one, and then he bought his mom a $100,000 car. He bought jewelry, suits, CD changer, went to Vegas, etc. Then his banker called him in to warn him about his spending. Shaq had no idea about taxes and that he had spent the entire million without realizing it!
From that point on, he made sure to take care of his money and learn from those who know about money. He credits Magic Johnson with helping him learn a lot about money and investing it instead of wasting it.
How did Shaq start his real estate investing career?
During Shaquille O’Neal’s long playing career, he earned an estimated $292,198,327! He definitely had a head start as an investor by earning so much money in the NBA. However, he did not start with huge projects although some of the articles you read will have you believe he did. In a 2002 article from the Denver Post about an affordable housing project he said:
“We started buying homes out of foreclosure and paying $10,000 or $12,000 for them, fixing them up, and maybe selling them for $25,000 or $35,000,” Shaq said.”It would be easy for me to develop a housing community around a golf course or buy strip malls, but that’s not how I want my book to go.”
He was talking about Mike Parris, who was his uncle and business manager, and mentioned that he was doing this 4 years ago, which would have been 1998 when he was 26. Shaq started small in his hometown. At the time he would have been playing with the Orlando Magic in Florida.
While he may not have been the one swinging the hammer, he was definitely investing in real estate at a young age.
How did Shaq’s real estate investing evolve?
Shaq started the O’Neal group in 2006 which invests heavily in real estate, but as we know he was involved in investing before that. In the article in the Denver Post from earlier, he was also involved in buying big projects before that as well. In 2002 Shaq said;
“My dream is to own $1 billion a year in affordable housing,”
- He started by purchasing a $65 million affordable housing project in the Denver area that eventually cost $100 million after property improvements and other costs were factored in. The project consisted of 1,500 units and the seller would only sell to investors who were willing to keep the affordable housing aspect of the project.
- In 2006 his company invested in The Met in Miami which was a highrise with 1,000 units.
- He also recently opened an $80 million apartment complex in New Jersey and has plans for another $150 million high rise.
What is a little frustrating is the giant gap you see from 2006 to 2018! it is hard to find much information on the O’Neal group or his real estate investments during that time. There was another project he was involved in Atlantic City, but I could not find out if that project was ever completed. However, he was not just investing in real estate during his career. He has done many things!
What other businesses has Shaq been a part of?
Shaq has said he loves real estate and obviously has been a part of some huge deals but he has done many other things as well! Here are a few of them:
- Pre-IPO Google stock: He bought into Google before it even went public.
- He started a clothing line
- He has owned 17 Auntie Anne’s Pretzels restaurants
- He has owned 150 car washes
- He has owned 155 Five Guys Burgers and Fries franchises
- He has owned 40 24 Hour Fitness gyms
- He has been a partner in Las Vegas nightclubs
- He has owned a movie theater
- He was a partner with Muscle Milk
- He was a partner with Vitaminwater
- He was a partner with Loyal3
- He has released albums with commercial success
- He has been in movies and on TV
- He is super involved with law enforcement
I am sure I am missing many other things he had done or been a part of! I have no idea how many of these things he has sold or still owns but he has sold many of his investments and business over the years. He is obviously very diversified!
How Shaq took less money to help kids
Shaq also has his own shoe line that he sells at Walmart! Yes, Walmart. Most big athletes sign multimillion-dollar endorsement deals with Nike or Reebok and Shaq did as well out of college. However, he had an encounter with a fan who said she couldn’t afford $100 shoes for her children. Shaw took this to heart and ended his deal with Reebok. He started his own shoe line and partnered with Walmart to provide basketball shoes for less than $30 in some cases! He has since sold more than 200 million pairs of shoes!
How involved is Shaq in real estate investing?
I have no idea how involved Shaq is or was in real estate. He sounds very passionate about it when he talks about so he could be very involved. However, he has so many other things going on it would not surprise me if he is mostly the money guy and other people find the deals and put together the projects. There is nothing wrong with that as the best investors learn how to make money without doing a ton of work! If Shaq happens to read this and has some more information to add, I would love to hear from you! Mark @ Investfourmore.com
Shaq has done some amazing things in his life outside of basketball. Many athletes squander the large sums of money they make but not Shaq. He has invested in many businesses and he didn’t always invest to make the most money but to help the most people. The money obviously came but the world is a better place with people like him around.