Shaquille O’Neal Reveals How He Spent His First Million—’I Knew Nothing’

Shaquille O’Neal is not only a beloved pop culture figure but a man who is widely regarded as one of the greatest professional basketball players of all time. O’Neal, also popularly known as Shaq, is a four-time NBA champion and played for a number of different teams over the course of his legendary career.

These days, Shaq is retired from basketball but still has a very full schedule, filming TV commercials and signing endorsement deals. Although O’Neal is a very wealthy man, he recently opened up to GQ about the days when he first became successful, and how he had to spend the first million dollars that he made. 

Shaquille O’Neal is a former professional basketball player

Shaquille O'Neal smiling, looking to the right
Shaquille O’Neal | Nathan Congleton/Getty Images

O’Neal was born in New Jersey in 1972. At an early age, O’Neal’s impressive height made waves, and by the time he was 16 years old, the young man had grown to 6 ft 10 inches. Ultimately, O’Neal would reach 7 ft 1 inch in height by the time he was done growing.

O’Neal decided to start playing basketball, but after graduating from high school, he planned on getting a business degree rather than immersing himself in the world of professional sports. However, O’Neal achieved extreme success playing college basketball – and in 1992, he entered the NBA draft, according to Biography.

All throughout the ’90s and into the early 2000s, O’Neal played basketball, winning accolades and honors at every turn. He played with several teams, including the Los Angeles Lakers and the Orlando Magic. In 2011, O’Neal retired from the sport, but he’s remained a vital presence in pop culture, releasing rap albums, appearing in movies and TV shows, and hosting his own podcast. These days, O’Neal is one of the most beloved athletes to ever achieve fame. 

What did Shaquille O’Neal say about spending his first million dollars?

O’Neal became famous at a young age, but he didn’t spend his money on frivolous things – at least, not at first. In a recent interview with GQ, O’Neal opened up about the early years of fame, and how he eventually became a high-powered businessman. “I learned about business from a book called The Dummies’ Guide to Starting Your Own Business. When I got my first million dollars, I spent it! Because I had to pay my family back,” O’Neal joked.

He went on to describe how “I had no financial experience. I was very immature, I knew nothing. So then I go get some ice, suits, whatever, chains. So I do all of that—and a couple of days later I get a call from the bank.” O’Neal admitted he was able to connect with people who knew about investments and smart spending, noting that he quickly learned what to do and what not to do with the money he earned. 

What is Shaquille O’Neal’s net worth today?

These days, O’Neal is known as much for his business deals and sponsorships as for his time in basketball. An active investor, O’Neal has worked in real estate and social video startups, making waves for his entrepreneurial spirit and tendency to give back whenever possible. He’s also appeared in a wide variety of commercials, representing everything from Papa John’s pizza to Icy Hot pain-relief patches. 

For his hard work and dedication, O’Neal’s net worth has risen to an impressive $400 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. Although O’Neal is retired from professional sports, he’s showing no signs of stepping away from pop culture anytime soon–and for his legions of fans, that’s very good news indeed.

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