5 Shaquille O’Neal Endorsements You Might Have Forgotten About
Since coming into the NBA in the early nineties, there might not be a more marketable player than Shaquille O’Neal. While Michael Jordan and LeBron James have built themselves more profitable brands, they do not have an extensive resume like the four-time NBA Champion. Along the way, O’Neal has been the spokesperson and face of many products throughout the years, but you might forget some of the most bizarre things to bear his name.
O’Neal is synonymous with many things based on endorsement deals alone. From car insurance to phone cases, he’s boosted his image in ways that few could ever dream of. However, in the mid-nineties, his image wasn’t just a commercial ploy to sell a product unrelated to him. O’Neal was the product. Perhaps, no product better displays this than Mr. Big.
Mr. Big was a candy bar put out by Cadbury, the same company that made the easter season’s signature eggs. The candy bar featured several staples of the kid-favorite. Chocolate, caramel, peanuts, wafers and rice snaps gave the bar a gooey center with a little bit of snap. Each wrapper bore the big man’s likeness, and although they did not last long, unopened versions of the product abound on the internet for those who want a taste of two-decade-old decadence.
O’Neal has had a side-interest in martial arts since he first entered the league. His rap lyrics were filled with references to the art form, and his infamous video game, Shaq Fu, famously put the big man into the fighting genre. In 2014, O’Neal tried his hand at bringing this persona to the mobile gaming world. In Shaqdown 2, which was a sequel to a popular game bearing the big man’s likeness, O’Neal fought off hordes of bad guys, reports Yahoo! Finance.
The first game was bizarre in its own right, but this sequel took it to the next level by bringing Jet Li and Muhammad Ali to help the big man join in the fight.
O’Neal got into the beverage game in 2013. Partnering with Arizona Iced Tea, who makes millions off of their Arnold Palmer beverage line, O’Neal hoped to have similar success as the legendary golfer. Soda Shaq was a line of all-natural cream sodas hoping to grab people with both delicious flavor and a recognizable name behind them.
The product line has since been discontinued, but for $55, somebody can be the lucky owner of four unopened cans of the Shaq-flavored beverage.
Unlike the other products, O’Neal wasn’t the driving force behind Power Balance, but he was a vocal endorser of the product, according to The Guardian. Power Balance bracelets promised those who wore it increased balance, strength, flexibility, and energy flow. O’Neal enthusiastically endorsed the product near the end of his playing career and said that it worked.
The only problem was that there was no science behind the product, and after the medical community disputed its veracity, the company quickly shuttered. At the time, however, the company was doing well enough to get the naming rights to Power Balance Pavilion, the Sacramento Kings’ former home, according to Sacramento CBS.
In 2012, O’Neal was recently-retired and looking for ways to keep his name out there. While he already had dozens of products in his past, he was looking to capitalize on a mature audience. Luv Shaq was born. Luv Shaq was a partnership with Devotion Vodka that boasted a sugar-and-gluten-free experience for those looking to take an edge off. The brand quickly died after it was released, according to Food Beast.
O’Neal’s story is one of success and business savviness. While it’s easy to make fun of his vodka, candy bars, and bracelets, he built his nine-figure wealth because he has always been willing to put himself out there. As long as there’s a Shaq, there will be someone ready to put his name and image on anyone willing to pay. This is why he looms so large even years after he hung up his sneakers for good.