Shaquille “Shaq” O’Neal is often stereotyped as an easygoing, fun-loving former NBA star-turned-media personality. However, what most people do not know is that Shaq, who has just expanded his business ventures with Big Chicken franchises, is quite scholarly.
Shaq: A Man of Degrees
O’Neal is a graduate of Barry University, where he obtained a doctorate in 2012. Barry is a private Catholic university in Miami Shores, Florida.
O’Neal has a doctoral degree in education. He was enrolled in the university’s Adrian Dominican School of Education and received his doctoral degree in organizational learning and leadership with a specialization in human resource development.
organizational learning and leadership with a specialization in human resource development. According to the university, O’Neal studied at the university for four-and-half years and achieved a cumulative GPA of 3.813. He completed 54 credit hours, comprised of 16 courses and six credit hours of self-directed research.
While playing for the Miami Heat, during the last two years of his NBA career, Shaq attended Barry University on the recommendation of the team’s foot doctor. Shaq attended classes via satellite and video conferences, Bleacher Report reported. He was one of approximately 1,100 graduates at the Miami school.
After graduating, he was looking to further his education.
“I think I’m going to try law school next,” he stated.
A Promise to His Mother
He left Louisiana State University in 1992 after three years after getting drafted by the Orlando Magic. He made a promise to his mother he would return.
The NBA commentator would eventually graduate from LSU in 2000 with a bachelor of science in general studies.
He received his MBA in 2005 from the University of Phoenix.
Not a Dumb Jock
During an interview with the Australian show “Sunrise,” O’Neal talked about his education and why we wanted to get higher degrees.
“The reason why I did that is because I always like to be in charge, but I let other people speak for me, my agents. So when I go to meetings and first they see me and they go, ‘Hey Shaq, how you doing?’ And they will always turn like I’m not there,” O’Neal said. “So I’m like, ‘Okay they think I’m this dumb jock who has no inclination on what business is.’ It would just drive me crazy.”
Papa John’s to Chicken Boss
Shaq’s advance degrees and education have probably come in handy while building his fortune. Shaq has an estimated net worth of $400 million and made more than more than $286 million in salary during his time in the NBA.
Post-NBA career, Shaq uses his celebrity status to promote a slew of different products, from medicated creams and powders to affordable car insurance.
Shaq’s people person image came in handy when Papa John’s need to repair its image after John Schnatter, the founder, chairman, and public face of pizza chain Papa John’s was caught using the N-word in 2018. Shaq joined the board in 2019, and then came the Shaq-a-Roni promotional pizza in 2020. Part of the earnings from the signature, limited-edition pizza went to charity. Papa John’s said it would donate $1 from every Shaq-a-Roni sold to The Papa John’s Foundation for Building Community to “supports communities as they work together for equality, fairness, respect and opportunity for all.”
Continuing his interest in fast food, Shaq is opening several new locations of his successful chicken restaurants in Texas and South Florida throughout 2022 and 2023.
Co-founded by the Hall of Famer in 2018, the NBA star’s Big Chicken is expected to open 45 franchises across Florida, including Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Miami, Tampa, Orlando and Fort Myers, though nothing is officially confirmed, the Sun Sentinel reported.