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Whatever Shaquille O’Neal does, he does it big. On the NBA hardwood, the center didn’t just have a metaphorical cup of coffee; he dominated the paint, won championships, and wrote his name in league history. The same can be said away from the court. Whether Shaq is DJing, doing his media work, or building up his bank account, there’s no room for half-measures.

Based on that reality, you might be wondering what the secret behind his success is. While both talent and luck factor in — no amount of hard work is going to make me an NBA center, after all — there’s something more at play. Jealousy is usually thought of as a negative emotion, but the Diesel uses it in moderation to get things moving in the right direction.

Don’t believe me? Let’s hear from the NBA legend himself.

Shaq made reference to being jealous of both Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson at various points

Shaquille O'Neal enters his 51st birthday party.
Shaquille O’Neal looked at the likes of Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan and wanted to be like them. | Prince Williams/WireImage

When you consider his body of work, it’s easy to think that being Shaquille O’Neal is a pretty sweet gig. But, despite all of his fame and fortune, the big man is still human; there have been times when he’s felt a bit envious of others.

“I don’t want to use the word copycat, but I’ve always used jealousy as motivation,” the legendary center told Sportscasting. “For example, when I was coming up, ‘Man Jordan, got to shoe. I want to shoe.’ How do I get it done? Man, Magic has all these businesses, how do I get it?”

As Shaq said, though, it’s not enough to simply be jealous. That emotion has to exist in moderation and be used as a drive forward rather than an excuse.

“So I would always see something, and then want it, and then prepare myself on how to get it without, you know, being crazy, going crazy,” he continued. “So I’d like to see something, something that I want, be a little bit jealous about it. But then, after the jealousy gets to the point, I say to myself, ‘OK, how can I obtain businesses on the side?’ I like to watch, see, and then conquer.”

That, combined with some other principles, has made Shaquille O’Neal a very rich man

While the Big Aristotle made reference to using jealousy as a motivating factor, that’s not the only principle he uses. In the past, he’s spoken about the importance of fun — which explains his brands like Papa John’s and Krispy Kreme — and only endorsing products that he personally believes in. Regardless of the exact number of processes, though, it’s safe to say that O’Neal’s strategy works.

Although it can be tough to detangle all of his financial threads — Shaq earned plenty of money in the NBA and does media work, providing multiple income streams — the big man is unequivocally in good shape. His net worth clocks in at an estimated $400 million; that’s less than Magic Johnson, but still nothing to sneeze at.

And while jealousy is considered a negative emotion and something that should generally be avoided, things worked out rather well for the NBA legend. Did he make some mistakes along the way? Of course, but when push comes to shove, he’s built up a Shaq-sized fortune.

That’s a pretty good result, even if his shoes aren’t at an Air Jordan level.


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