Shortly after Shaquille O’Neal was traded to the Phoenix Suns in the middle of the 2008 season, he moved to a new empty apartment. Eager to complete it quickly, he traveled to Walmart in the middle of the night and spent around $70,000.
“I have the highest purchase in Walmart history. The CEO will confirm that,” O’Neal told Sports Real HBO with Bryant Gumbel. Walmart does not respond to requests for comments.
“I spent so much American Express thinking my credit card was stolen,” he said. The card was rejected twice, and then he received a call from the security team telling him what they suspected was a fraud charge.
After O’Neal confirmed that it was true, “Shaq,” the NBA champion was four times worth $400 million, at the Walmart cashier line, they lifted the suspension and allowed the purchase to be passed. Shopping lists include “pants, socks, underwear, tank tops, TVs, printers [and] computers,” he said.
In general, O’Neal considered himself a smart waste, thanks largely to the lessons taught by the father of his instructors. “Every time an athlete does something crazy, I will have problems for that,” he said. “So, my father did a really great job using scare tactics.”
He recommends living only 25 percent of your income and keeping the remaining 75 percent for retirement or long-term purposes. “Money won’t last forever,” he said. “You have to save it, you have to invest it and you have to be smart.”
But as the Walmart episode shows, once in a while he tends to make impulsive purchases. That’s how he spent his first NBA salary. “I failed in 20 minutes,” he told CNBC, “Quick Money.” He was not entirely fair to himself, because he did not throw the money away: “I bought my mother a car, daddy car, paid off their credit, bought them a house.”
After that, he said, he began saving money.