‘ShaqAttack’: Shaquille O’Neal Returns to Shark Week After Surviving Harrowing Shark Encounter

Shark Week is back on The Discovery Channel. And this year, sports legend Shaquille O’Neal is revisiting shark-infested waters after surviving a terrifying encounter in 2018. In a recent interview, O’Neal revealed how he managed to make it through the harrowing ordeal. 

Shaq posing for his TV show 'Shaq Vs.'
Shaquille O’neal posing for his televsion show | Travis Bell/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

Shaq has a fear of sharks

He may be tall and strong, but Shaq does not mess around when it comes to sharks. And in 2018, while filming a special with comedian Rob Riggle for Shark Week in the Bahamas, the NBA champ found himself face to face with one. While Shaq was observing the ocean from the safety of his dive cage, a dangerous shark managed to wriggle its way in for an attack. 

RELATED: ‘Shark Week 2020’: Mike Tyson Contends With a Shark for an Interesting Reason

“I have a fear of sharks, but my father always said get over it,” Shaq revealed in a recent chat with ET. “So the first time I went in, I trained and it was cool. Then when the shark got in the cage, I panicked. But luckily for the MVP elbow, I elbowed him in his mouth when he tried to bite me and made him clench his teeth.”

He’s returning for Shark Week

After facing his fears, and surviving a major shark encounter, Shaq is returning for a Shark Week special. This time around, he’s facing a gentler species called a whale shark. But then talking to ET, he said he was just as nervous as last time. 

“This time they kind of tricked me, they said we want you to just come back in, they said we want you to swim with a whale shark,” Shaq said. “Now listen, I’m not a fishologist or whatever you call them, but whales eat people and sharks eat people, so I’m like, ‘Aww, both of these dudes are combined?’ So when I got in there I was terrified. But they’re very docile, they’re very gentle, and he only bumped me a couple times. But other than that, I was pretty cool.”

The basketball legend also revealed that Shark Week producers have plans to introduce him to great white sharks off the coast of South Africa next season. He’s actually agreed to do it, but with one major condition. 

“I’m gonna do it,” he suggested. “As long as I got me a cage, where the damn entrance is regulated, because see, whoever built that cage last year should be fired. Because, you know, the cage is nice, but he had a big old entrance for a shark to just swim right through, so. This time I’m going to make sure that the cage is real tight.”

Shaq’s new 2020 special, ‘ShaqAttack’ airs during Shark Week

Ready to see Shaq swimming with the sharks once again? His new special, ShaqAttack, airs on Monday, Aug. 10, at 9 p.m. ET on The Discovery Channel. 

“After surviving a shark encounter in Shaq Does Shark Week, Shaquille O’Neal is back…and now he’s on a mission to determine what shark has the perfect predatory attack,” the Discovery synopsis teases. “But he can’t do it alone. Shaq is deploying YouTube stars Dude Perfect and Mark Rober to put various species to the test and uncover the most mind-blowing hunting techniques of this ultimate predator.”

Shark Week airs Aug. 9 through Aug. 16 on Discovery.