Shaquille O’Neal is an institution all on his own. The 50-year-old sports icon and savvy businessman has earned millions through a diverse portfolio of ventures. But not all of that money is from his likeness alone. In fact, some of those dollars come straight from the King of Rock ‘n Roll.
As more attention is put on Elvis Presley in the wake of his recent Baz Luhrmann-directed biopic, questions about Presley’s estate and massive fortune and lucrative royalties have arisen. And that brings up a strange but true fact: Shaq is on the receiving end of some of those dollars.
O’Neal is the second-largest individual shareholder of Authentic Brands Group, the company behind dozens of brand and retailer acquisitions—including Forever 21, Barneys New York, JCPenney and Reebok. Though the company is noted in the retail space for reviving struggling brands, it also has ownership to the rights of many celebrity royalties, including Marilyn Monroe, Muhammad Ali, David Beckham and, yes, Elvis Presley.
In a July 2019 interview with Earn Your Leisure, Shaq said, “I don’t like to seem like I’m bragging, but I’m going to ask you a question: Who owns Marilyn Monroe? Who owns Elvis Presley? Who owns Forever 21? Who owns JCPenney? Me.”
He added, “My real business is I own 50 brands.”
O’Neal has owned shares in ABG since 2015, when the sports icon signed an agreement to let the company manage his likeness and marketing rights. In 2019, Authentic Brands Group CEO Jamie Salter told FN that moments before O’Neal closed the deal to sign away half of his brand proceeds to ABG, he turned to Salter with an idea.
“[O’Neal] says, ‘You know all that money you’re going to give me?’” Salter told FN. “I said, ‘Yeah.’ He says, ‘I’d like to invest it in ABG.’ And I said, ‘Hold on, I don’t understand. You need to explain that to me.’ He says, ‘I’m doing a deal with you to sell you 50% of everything I have going on for the rest of my life. Do you think I trust you?’ And I said, ‘I hope so.’ He says, ‘Why wouldn’t I be partners with you? We’re going to build this company together.’ And that’s how he became the second-largest shareholder of ABG.”
ABG acquired Elvis’ royalties in November 2013 from Elvis Presley Enterprises, which was run by the late music icon’s family. This includes a share of all licensing and merchandising related to the star.
“I put money back in the company, and now I own all those other brands,” Shaq told Earn Your Leisure. “So if Shaq ever goes away, s**t, we still got Elvis.”