Shaquille “Shaq” O’Neal followed a critical piece of money advice from Magic Johnson early on. Johnson explained that while being famous was great, O’Neal would need to start owning things to remain successful. Thanks to this guidance, O’Neal is one of the richest former NBA players of all time alongside Johnson with net worth of $400 million and $600 million respectively. (Courtesy photo)

By Megan Sayles
AFRO Business Writer
Report for America Corps Member
msayles@afro.com

Although Shaquille O’Neal and Magic Johnson never had the opportunity to play each other in the NBA, during O’Neal’s early days in the league, Johnson offered the center a critical piece of money advice. He explained to O’Neal that while being famous was great, he would need to start owning things to remain successful, according to Business Insider. Thanks to this guidance, O’Neal is one of the richest former NBA players of all time alongside Johnson with net worth of $400 million and $600 million respectively, according to Sportscasting.

Johnson’s career in business started while he was still playing with the Los Angeles Lakers. In 1987, he founded Magic Johnson Enterprises. Aside from the investment company, Johnson also started Johnson Development Corporation.

One of his first major ventures was his $60 million purchase of a Washington Pepsi-Cola facility in 1990, according to Magic Johnson Enterprises. He partnered with Earl G. Graves, who attended Morgan State University. Some of his other notable investments were his purchase of 105 Starbucks stores and 31 Burger Kings, his opening of Magic Johnson’s T.G.I. Fridays and his ownership of 24 Hour Fitness gym, according to Magic Johnson Enterprises. He also previously owned Magic Johnson Theatres after a partnership with Sony Retail Entertainment. The theaters were built in underserved communities across America, and now they are owned by AMC.

Earvin “Magic” Johnson’s, left, pictured with his wife Cookie Johnson, career in business started while he was still playing with the Los Angeles Lakers. In 1987, he founded Magic Johnson Enterprises. (Courtesy photo)

His more recent investments have targeted under-resourced and minority communities. In 2018, Johnson invested in Naturade, a Black-owned natural health company that is committed to reversing diabetes in underserved communities, according to Magic Johnson Enterprises. In 2020, under EquiTrust Life Insurance Company, for which Johnson is a controlling shareholder, he provided $325 million in capital fund loans through the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, according to Magic Johnson Enterprises.

Unbeknownst to many, O’Neal has long been committed to education. When he was drafted as the number one pick for the NBA in 1992, he put his college degree on hold at Louisiana State University. Finally, in 2000, the Lakers’ star famously missed a game to graduate from the university with a degree in general studies, according to ESPN. However, O’Neal did not stop there. He went on to receive a master’s degree in business administration at the University of Phoenix as well as a doctorate degree in business from Barry University, according to Sportscasting, and clearly, these degrees were put to use.

One of O’Neal’s early investments was in Google before the company went public, and he told Vanity Fair that his only regret has been not buying more. He’s also made investments in Lyft and Ring, a doorbell home security system, according to Money. The former NBA player has been rather active in the food industry. He formerly owned 155 Five Guys Restaurants but eventually sold his stake, and he also purchased 17 Auntie Anne’s, one Krispy Kreme in Atlanta, a Big Chicken restaurant in Las Vegas and his own restaurant in Los Angeles named “Shaquille’s,” according to Money. In 2019, O’Neal joined the board of directors at Papa John’s, and now invests in nine stores around Atlanta. Most recently, he co-founded a new advertising agency in Atlanta in 2021 that focuses on telling diverse stories, according to Insider.

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