NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal left more than $40 million on the table thanks to one encounter with a little old lady.
In an interview with the Full Send podcast (via The New York Post), Shaq was already representing the brand when he had an encounter with a woman while on the court. In his words, the lady “ripped him a new a**hole.”
Apparently, the woman was upset at the price of the Shaq-endorsed Reeboks, and decided to take her frustrations out on the player-turned-entrepreneur.
“I had $2,000 in my pocket. I said, ‘Lady I don’t make the prices. Here you go, and she smacked the money out of my hand, [and said], ‘Why don’t you motherf–kers make a shoe that’s affordable?’”
Shaquille O’Neal, however, didn’t take this as a sign of disrespect. Rather, he said to the podcast, he took this as a teachable moment, and realized he couldn’t keep endorsing Reeboks — even with a $40 million price tag for his endorsement.
“I was like, ‘You know what, she’s right.’ So that day, I cut ties with Reebok and started my own brand,” he recalled. “I said keep the money… this ain’t right. I’ll still wear the shoes I wear during the season, but I’ll be looking to do my own thing. So, I started the Shaq brand,” he said. “I went to my favorite store, Walmart, and we did a deal. I was in all stores and my price point for the shoes was $29-$19 and since then we sold over 400 million pairs. It’s not kids that don’t want to wear $20 shoes, they don’t want to wear shoes that look like they cost $20.”
Obviously, Shaquille O’Neal made the right decision. Though he cut ties with Reebok, his subsequent deals with companies like Auntie Anne’s, Papa John’s, and Playboy gave him a net worth of more than $400 million.