Some years ago, superstar Shaquille O’Neal walked away from a $40 million shoe deal with Reebok. Today, the affordable shoe line he developed instead sells roughly a million sneakers a month.
According to The Sports Rush, O’Neal shared on the “Full Send” podcast that he left Reebok in 1998 after he realized the expense of his branded sneakers for fans. He said a mother approached him upset because she said his younger fans did not have the money to purchase the shoes endorsed by the basketball giant.
What’s more, at the time, Shaq, who was 26 years of age, opened his wallet and gave the mother $2,000. He also made the decision to take his talents to Walmart to start making his own shoes that were affordable.
“That day, I cut ties with Reebok,” he said on the podcast, according to Footwear News. “I said keep the money… this ain’t right. I’ll still wear the shoes I do during the season, but I’ll be looking to do my own thing. So, I started the Shaq brand. I went to my favorite store, Walmart, and we did a deal.”
What’s more, Shaq opened up about the success of the shoe.
During the 2021 interview, Shaq revealed that he had sold 400 million pairs of shoes since launching his own brand, and that number continues to rise as they are still available for purchase at Walmart. He recently took to Instagram to show off the massive factory where the magic happens.
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“I was in all stores and my price point for the shoes were $29-$19, and since then we sold over 400 million pairs,” he recalled. “It’s not that kids don’t want to wear $20 shoes. They don’t want to wear shoes that look like they cost $20.”
Today, reports confirm that Shaq is the second-largest individual to own shares in Authentic Brand Group, which owns JCPenney, Forever 21, and, ironically, Reebok.
While he may sell a hefty million shoes per month, O’Neal is no stranger to using the fortune he’s amassed to help others.
As previously reported by AfroTech, Shaq has done everything from paying for laptops for one mother’s children to putting his own parents on salary once he made it to the NBA. Additionally, he once even paid for 15 of his friends to go to school to earn their master’s degrees.