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Shaquille O'Neal sells rights to future business endeavors

Shaquille O'Neal has sold the rights to his future business endeavors to one of the biggest brand management companies in the world.

Authentic Brands Group will announce Thursday that it has acquired the rights to manage O'Neal's name in both the merchandise and endorsement world. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, though sources say O'Neal will retain a significant stake of his business future.

With the deal, Shaq will now be part of a company that has made its name recently by licensing the names of Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Muhammad Ali and Michael Jackson, all of whom are part of the ABG portfolio.

"We're thrilled to have a true business partner in Shaq," said ABG president and chief marketing officer Nick Woodhouse. "Through his bigger-than-life personality, he has turned himself into one of the strongest sports brands in the world."

The 15-time All-Star and four-time champion, who made almost $300 million over his 19-year NBA career on the court, now makes more money off the court than he did in endorsements when he was playing. Earlier this year, Forbes projected that O'Neal would make $21 million in 2015.

O'Neal has put an emphasis on selling affordable items with his name on them. His shoes, which often retail for less than $20, sell more than 2 million pairs a year at Wal-Mart. His suits at Macy's often sell for less than $300. His jewelry collection at Zales mostly ranges from $100 to $500 per piece.

"My dad said to me, 'Remember, there are more of us than them," O'Neal told ESPN.com on Thursday. "And what he meant by that is that there are fewer millionaires and rich people than there are poor people. A lot of people can't afford $150 shoes, and that stuck with me."

Over his career he has endorsed more than 70 products, yet companies can't seem to get enough of him.

He has a deal with Icy Hot, which began in 2002, that runs through 2016. In 2013, Arizona Beverages launched a soda line with his face on the can, which has now been extended to a fruit punch.

After being picked first by the Orlando Magic in the 1992 draft, O'Neal signed a deal with Reebok. When that expired in 1998, he began selling shoes on his own website. Through trial and error, O'Neal came to understand he needed not only a shoe partner but also brick-and-mortar stores.

He and those partners have now sold more than 100 million pairs of shoes. Not only did O'Neal say he's surprised at the success of his line, he also said an LSU professor would be too.

"I started to develop my logo in a branding class I had at LSU," O'Neal said. "I actually got an 'F' on the project because my professor said big men had never sold shoes before."

O'Neal also benefited from being one of the early adopters of social media. In 2009, while still playing for the Phoenix Suns, he was the fifth-most-followed person on Twitter.

The deal does not include a stake in O'Neal's contract with Turner Sports for his appearance on its TNT studio show "Inside The NBA." O'Neal re-upped with the network after four seasons this year. The deal also does not include his small stake in the Sacramento Kings.

The deal was brokered by Perry Rogers and Colin Smeeton of PR+ Partners, who have represented O'Neal since 2001.


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