Perhaps there is no off-limit terrain for Shaquille O’Neal, who is also taking over the seas!

Among O’Neal’s various business ventures, he founded Big Chicken, a fast-casual restaurant that debuted in Las Vegas in 2018.

While the the former basketball center has multiple ventures, he says he only pursues opportunities that he believes can change people’s lives, he previously told AFROTECH.

“I try not to base everything on a monetary value,” he said. “I get a lot of deals. ‘Wear the shirt, put your name on it, we’ll sell it.’ I like investing in things that’s going to change people’s lives. I heard Jeff Bezos say that once, and that’s how he invests. So, I follow the strategy, and it’s been working very well for me.”

Launching Big Chicken makes perfect sense for O’Neal. He grew up eating various chicken dishes made by his mother, Houston Press reports.

“This is my creation—Excuse me, this is my mama’s creation. Coming where we come from, me and this little guy had to eat chicken a lot,” O’Neal told the outlet. “Chicken sandwiches, chicken tacos, chicken everything.”

Now, he is putting his spin on a staple through menu items, including chicken sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, crispy chicken Caesar salad, and crispy chicken grilled cheese.

Big Chicken continues to see success, and in February 2023, Nation’s Restaurant News reported there were plans to develop 200 more locations. The number includes sports arenas, airports, stand-alone stores, and even taking the business to the seas. In 2020, O’Neal solidified a business partnership with Carnival Cruise.

The opportunity came into existence organically. According to StMU Research Scholars, O’Neal lived by the Carnival Cruise Line in New Orleans, LA. Curiosity would lead him to board the ship. Amused with his experience, he began to promote the cruise line. In 2018, he would take on the official title of chief fun officer of Carnival Cruise Lines.

“We are very excited to have Shaq as part of the Carnival team! He will serve as a great partner, ensuring everyone knows all about our one-of-a-kind brand of fun,” expressed Carnival President Christine Duffy in a news release. “We’re confident that his embodiment of our brand values will inspire America to Choose Fun and discover the authentic, participatory and social atmosphere that Carnival offers.”

O’Neal commented, “In today’s world, it’s more important than ever to choose fun, especially when everyone is busy with work, family, and life in general. So, I’m honored to be appointed the Chief Fun Officer at Carnival – a company that lives and breathes fun.”

Shaq would soon advance his efforts with Carnival Cruise, cementing a deal to bring Big Chicken to the cruise experience. As a press release stated in 2018, “The seagoing adaptation Big Chicken aboard Carnival Radiance will be among the many food, dining, and entertainment innovations incorporated into the 102,000-ton ship following a $200 million refurbishment in Cadiz, Spain, in 2020.”

“Big Chicken has been a dream of mine, and now that our land-based restaurant is open, it’s only natural to bring it to sea, as well. I’m really excited that Carnival Radiance guests will be able to enjoy my own delicious creations alongside all the other great food offerings on board,” O’Neal mentioned in a news release.

In December 2023, Big Chicken was among the many businesses featured in the newly established Galveston, TX, cruise line, affirming the business partnership is still going strong.