From his rookie season with the Orlando Magic in 1992 to his current gig as a sports analyst on Inside the NBA, Shaquille O’Neal has found success both on and off the basketball court. In addition to earning a hefty salary during his years as a pro, the retired 7-foot-1-inch center has made millions from movies, TV spots, endorsements, and investments. Here’s a deep dive into Shaq’s net worth and the deals that have made him the most dough.
Shaq’s NBA Career Lasted From 1992 To 2011
Shaquille O’Neal spent 19 seasons in the NBA — four with the Orlando Magic, eight with the Los Angeles Lakers, three with the Miami Heat, and two with the Phoenix Suns. He also spent a year with the Cleveland Cavaliers and a year with the Boston Celtics before announcing his retirement in 2011.
According to Celebrity Net Worth, Shaq’s starting salary during his rookie year in the NBA was $3,000,000. While that was definitely an impressive sum for the 20-year-old newbie, Shaq said that he was much more concerned with making a name for himself than making money at the start of his career.
“I wasn’t nervous,” O’Neal told theScore in 2018. “I was just anxious to fulfill my lifelong dream of being an NBA player. I had to let the world know that I was here. I couldn’t just do regular stuff. I had to do something different so people would know the name Shaquille O’Neal forever.”
When Shaq left the Orlando Magic in 1996, his salary had risen to $5,700,000. During his eight years with the Los Angeles Lakers, his earnings grew from $10,714,000 for the 1996-1997 season to $24,749,999 for the 2003-2004 season. Once he was traded to the Miami Heat in 2004, Shaq reached his peak and scored his highest NBA paycheck — $27,696,430 for the season.
But after being traded to the Phoenix Suns and failing to make the playoffs for the first time since his rookie season, Shaq’s earnings began to take a dip in 2006. Celebrity Net Worth reports that he made $41,000,000 total for his two years with the Suns and $20,000,000 for his one year with the Cleveland Cavaliers. During his 2010-2011 season with the Boston Celtics — Shaq’s final year in the NBA — injury forced him to miss 27 season games, bringing his earnings down to a reported $1,352,181.
Altogether, Shaq’s total earnings for his nearly two-decade NBA career was $292,198,327.
He’s Had A Number Of Professions Outside Of Basketball
Of course, Shaq’s lucrative career goes far beyond the basketball court. A venerable Jack-of-all-trades, the 49-year-old superstar has had a slew of successful side pursuits. He made his debut as an actor in the 1994 basketball movie Blue Chips and went on to star in the 1996 fantasy comedy Kazaam and the 1997 superhero flick Steel. He’s made cameos on many TV shows, including Curb Your Enthusiasm, Fear Factor, and Jackass, and even had two of his own reality shows — Shaquille in 2005 and Shaq Vs. in 2009. In 2011, he was tapped to join the TNT network as a sports analyst on the postgame show Inside the NBA, which he still works on today.
Shaq has also dabbled in the music business as a rapper, releasing five studio albums and appearing as a guest on tracks with singers like Michael Jackson and Aaron Carter. While some criticized him for his mediocre rhyming skills, his debut album, Shaq Diesel, was considered a success and received platinum certification from the RIAA.
Outside of the entertainment industry, Shaq has had many interesting side hustles. In 2005, he served as a reserve officer with the Los Angeles Port Police and then the Miami Beach reserve, where he reportedly earned a $1-a-year salary. In 2012, he earned an Ed.D focusing on organizational learning and leadership from Florida’s Barry University.
“This is for my mother, who always stressed the importance of education,” O’Neal said of his achievement. “I am proud to have achieved a doctoral degree and wish to thank my professors and Barry University for helping make this dream a reality. I’m smart enough to know that, even at my tender age, my pursuit of education is never finished.”
On top of all of this, the MVP launched a line of kitchen and cookware called SHAQ, which he sells through the home shopping television network ShopHQ. In fact, the Hall of Famer has become a master when it comes to scoring lucrative endorsement deals.
Shaq Has Had Tons Of Brand Deals Over The Years
Though he’s clearly talented in a wide variety of areas, Shaq’s entrepreneurial mind may be his highest-earning asset. He’s leveraged tons of brand endorsements to build his empire, including a long-term partnership with the popular auto insurance company The General.
“I’ve always known that they were a quality insurance company, and my goal is to help the world understand that,” Shaq recently told Forbes. “I joined forces with The General in 1989 when I bought a used Bronco for $1,500. The guy wouldn’t let me drive off of the lot until I had insurance. I went by all of the other insurance places, and I couldn’t afford them. I saw this little sign that said, ‘The General’ and I walked in looking for some affordable and quality insurance.”
“I know I’m Shaq and I can afford any insurance in the world,” he continued, “but when I was just Shaquille, I needed quality, affordable insurance and that’s why I went with The General.”
Shaq has also learned how to invest wisely and says that his strategy involves putting money into businesses he believes in. “Every time I tried to invest in something for just monetary purposes only, I would lose and lose big,” he told Forbes. “Every time I tried to do the get-rich-quick schemes; I would lose. When I started investing in companies that are going to change people’s lives, it all changed.”
That strategy includes saying no to some deals, regardless of how lucrative they may be. “I have to love the product and believe in the product, especially if I’m going to try and get you to believe in the product,” Shaq explained. “I’ve always been an old school, respectable businessman. If I don’t know anything about your product, I can’t sell it to my people.”
Shaq’s Net Worth Is $400 Million
Shaq has his endorsement deals to thank for a huge chunk of his impressive net worth. Since leaving the NBA, he’s put his name behind more than 50 big brands, including Carnival Cruise Line, Radio Shack, Zales, Auntie Anne’s, Muscle Milk, VitaminWater, Taco Bell, and Nestle Crunch. In 2019, he scored a monster deal with pizza chain Papa John’s that included over 87,000 shares of stock and a seat on the board of directors, in addition to his commercial endorsement. All told, the agreement is said to be worth more than $8.5 million.
The NBA Ballers star was also an early investor in Google before its IPO, which has contributed significantly to his net worth. “For me, it was a lucky investment. I was at the right place at the right time, and I was able to invest in it,” the businessman told Forbes. “I had forgot about it and the day the news broke; I received a nice amount.”
Celebrity Net Worth estimates that Shaq currently earns about $60 million per year from his investment portfolio and various endorsement deals alone. Tack that on to a total of more than $292 million for his years in the NBA and another $200 million from his acting, hosting, and other entertainment and media pursuits, and you’ve got a nice chunk of change for this basketball legend!