Shaquille O’Neal emerged as one of the biggest NBA stars from a low-income household. Often called “Shaq’ or “The Big Aristotle”, he started playing NBA while in high school. He helped his school to win the state championship. He subsequently went to LSU to study business and play basketball under head coach Dale Brown.
By 1992, Shaq had emerged as the No. 1 overall draft pick in the 1992 NBA draft class. He became the first pick by the Orlando Magic and would spend 19 years in the NBA. He was not just an ordinary NBA player, he became one of the best centers in the league.
Despite being one of the best players in NBA history, at the twilight of his professional career, he had his eyes fixed on his retirement. In his 19-year-old NBA career, he accrued wealth through contracts totaling $300 million. Now he makes millions of dollars per year thanks to his businesses and other endorsement deals with companies such as Icy Hot, Gold Bond, Buick, Zales, and others.
Off the field, O’Neal was an avid investor, with a number of businesses. One of his early investments was in Google, which he did “by accident.”
The NBA legend was playing with some kids at a restaurant. Apparently, their dad was a high-profile investor and urged O’Neal to invest in Google. They elevated the conversation into a formal meeting, where he showed interest in investing in the company.
He ended up investing in the search giant before it went public in 2004, although he has never said how much money he put in.
“I was at Four Seasons, I was eating lunch and there were four distinguished gentlemen sitting there playing with their kids, and the kids recognize me and they’re playing with me,” O’Neal said, according to Tech Crunch.
“Basically, I’m doing a babysitting job, and one gentleman says ‘I want to talk about this company called Google,’ and just talking about search engines and ‘you’ll be able to type in anything,’ and I was like, ‘That sounds good.’ We had a meeting with them and it looked good, and I put some money in and I forgot about it.”
And according to Tech Crunch, he found out about his investment and returns while reading a newspaper. “The newspaper told me how much I made and I couldn’t believe how much I made,” he said.
Today, Google has a market cap of around $768 billion and O’Neal’s regret is that he didn’t invest more in the search engine.
“It was presented to me, I knew it was gonna hit,” O’Neal said, according to Insider. “And I said, ‘Wow, I’ll try it.’ My only regret is that I wish I would have bought more.”