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Shaq has another deal cooked up. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

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Shaquille O’Neal holds all kinds of professional basketball records – Top 10 in all-time points, an All Star 15 times, most offensive rebounds ever in NBA playoff games – but he could be well on his way to breaking another record: most product endorsements by a former professional athlete.

With the announcement this week that Shaq will be doing a 30-episode run for his new line of housewares and kitchen doodads on ShopHQ, the television shopping channel that had been recently known as Evine, the gentle giant has added one more product tie-in to his ever-growing list.

A quick flip or surf on a TV or digital device and Shaq is likely to turn up touting Papa John’s Pizza, The General car insurance, Carnival Cruises and Icy Hot pain relief pads. And that’s just what shows up in the first few minutes.

According to the Investopedia website, Shaq has endorsed more than 50 company’s product and services, earning $25 to $30 million…a year. And all without breaking a full-court press sweat.

In the eight years since he retired from his historic 19-year career, the list of endorsements is nearly as lengthy as his 22nd-all-time-ranking of 42,000 minutes played. Besides the current roster it includes VitaminWater, Burger King, Kraft Foods, Pepsi, Comcast, Radio Shack and Taco Bell, just to name a few.

And Shaq is not just a paid spokesman in many cases. At Papa John’s, he is co-owner of nine franchises and sits on the troubled pizza chain’s board of directors. His “brand ambassador” role – it’s what many companies are calling their celebrity endorsers these days – is just the most visible, notably in a new TV commercial.

According to the investment website, he has many other equity stakes in businesses. They report that his private business ventures include ownership, with partners, of 155 Five Guys Burgers restaurants, a car wash chain, fitness centers, three Las Vegas nightclubs and several Auntie Anne’s pretzel stands.

At Carnival, he holds the title of CFO: however that’s as in Chief Fun Officer, not the more conventionally known chief financial officer. But if you think O’Neal is just some celebrity novice who lends his persona to these companies without a true understanding of the business world, think again.

While still playing professional ball, he went back to Louisiana State University which he left early to go pro and earned his bachelor’s degree. He then went on to get a masters online from the University of Phoenix, like his undergrad degree in business. In the spring of 2012 he graduated with a Ph.D. in education from Barry University in Miami telling ABC News at the time, “Only the children can call me Shaq, the adults have to address me as Dr. O’Neal.”

Of course, former pro athletes turning celebrity endorsers is not exactly something new. Famously the early 20th Century baseball star Honus Wagner was featured on a baseball card given out with tobacco products and, as a staunch opponent of smoking, he had the company pull all the cards in circulation. A few stray cards remained and today his baseball card is among the most valuable sports collectibles in the world.

More recently, athletes have willingly signed on for some extra cash from numerous product tie-ins. From Mickey Mantle for Maypo and Joe Namath for pantyhose and shaving cream to Bret Favre for support hose and Peyton Manning for insurance, they have proven to be staples of the advertising world.

Perhaps three of the most prominent recent examples have had interesting story arcs. Basketball legend Michael Jordan has maintained his marketing presence perhaps as long as anybody as his Nike footwear line continues to be best sellers. Bo Jackson, who starred in both football and baseball, had a number of endorsement deals at his height but faded away as his sports accomplishments equally as faded. But Jackson has returned recently, doing a series of spots for Sprint.

The third prominent former athlete was the star of a series of highly popular ads for Hertz, dashing through airports to quickly pick up his rental car. Later on, another high-speed maneuver was of a very different nature and O.J. Simpson is not being asked to endorse much of anything these days.

But all of these sports players seem to pale in comparison to O’Neal and if there is some skepticism about his most recent kitchenware tie-in, one only needs to be reminded of another unlikely union of a former athlete who lent his name to a stove-top grill that had been around for years with little success. In 1994, the inventors of the product took their grill to a heavyweight boxer who reportedly had a reputation for not being the nicest guy in or out of the ring. Somewhat reluctantly he signed a deal to lend his name to the product.

The George Foreman Grill has gone on to be considered the single best selling kitchen appliance of all time and Foreman, eventually selling his name for perpetuity, walked away with an estimated $250 million over the course of the partnership.

That gives Shaq something, excuse the expression, to shoot for.

 

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Shaquille O’Neal holds all kinds of professional basketball records – Top 10 in all-time points, an All Star 15 times, most offensive rebounds ever in NBA playoff games – but he could be well on his way to breaking another record: most product endorsements by a former professional athlete.

With the announcement this week that Shaq will be doing a 30-episode run for his new line of housewares and kitchen doodads on ShopHQ, the television shopping channel that had been recently known as Evine, the gentle giant has added one more product tie-in to his ever-growing list.

A quick flip or surf on a TV or digital device and Shaq is likely to turn up touting Papa John’s Pizza, The General car insurance, Carnival Cruises and Icy Hot pain relief pads. And that’s just what shows up in the first few minutes.

According to the Investopedia website, Shaq has endorsed more than 50 company’s product and services, earning $25 to $30 million…a year. And all without breaking a full-court press sweat.

In the eight years since he retired from his historic 19-year career, the list of endorsements is nearly as lengthy as his 22nd-all-time-ranking of 42,000 minutes played. Besides the current roster it includes VitaminWater, Burger King, Kraft Foods, Pepsi, Comcast, Radio Shack and Taco Bell, just to name a few.

And Shaq is not just a paid spokesman in many cases. At Papa John’s, he is co-owner of nine franchises and sits on the troubled pizza chain’s board of directors. His “brand ambassador” role – it’s what many companies are calling their celebrity endorsers these days – is just the most visible, notably in a new TV commercial.

According to the investment website, he has many other equity stakes in businesses. They report that his private business ventures include ownership, with partners, of 155 Five Guys Burgers restaurants, a car wash chain, fitness centers, three Las Vegas nightclubs and several Auntie Anne’s pretzel stands.

At Carnival, he holds the title of CFO: however that’s as in Chief Fun Officer, not the more conventionally known chief financial officer. But if you think O’Neal is just some celebrity novice who lends his persona to these companies without a true understanding of the business world, think again.

While still playing professional ball, he went back to Louisiana State University which he left early to go pro and earned his bachelor’s degree. He then went on to get a masters online from the University of Phoenix, like his undergrad degree in business. In the spring of 2012 he graduated with a Ph.D. in education from Barry University in Miami telling ABC News at the time, “Only the children can call me Shaq, the adults have to address me as Dr. O’Neal.”

Of course, former pro athletes turning celebrity endorsers is not exactly something new. Famously the early 20th Century baseball star Honus Wagner was featured on a baseball card given out with tobacco products and, as a staunch opponent of smoking, he had the company pull all the cards in circulation. A few stray cards remained and today his baseball card is among the most valuable sports collectibles in the world.

More recently, athletes have willingly signed on for some extra cash from numerous product tie-ins. From Mickey Mantle for Maypo and Joe Namath for pantyhose and shaving cream to Bret Favre for support hose and Peyton Manning for insurance, they have proven to be staples of the advertising world.

Perhaps three of the most prominent recent examples have had interesting story arcs. Basketball legend Michael Jordan has maintained his marketing presence perhaps as long as anybody as his Nike footwear line continues to be best sellers. Bo Jackson, who starred in both football and baseball, had a number of endorsement deals at his height but faded away as his sports accomplishments equally as faded. But Jackson has returned recently, doing a series of spots for Sprint.

The third prominent former athlete was the star of a series of highly popular ads for Hertz, dashing through airports to quickly pick up his rental car. Later on, another high-speed maneuver was of a very different nature and O.J. Simpson is not being asked to endorse much of anything these days.

But all of these sports players seem to pale in comparison to O’Neal and if there is some skepticism about his most recent kitchenware tie-in, one only needs to be reminded of another unlikely union of a former athlete who lent his name to a stove-top grill that had been around for years with little success. In 1994, the inventors of the product took their grill to a heavyweight boxer who reportedly had a reputation for not being the nicest guy in or out of the ring. Somewhat reluctantly he signed a deal to lend his name to the product.

The George Foreman Grill has gone on to be considered the single best selling kitchen appliance of all time and Foreman, eventually selling his name for perpetuity, walked away with an estimated $250 million over the course of the partnership.

That gives Shaq something, excuse the expression, to shoot for.

 



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