“Don’t always try to go for the quick money scheme,” O’Neal said. “Every time I made an investment based on: ‘I was going to double or triple or quadruple my money,’ I lost every time.”
Instead he’s learned that his returns are much better after researching his investments and holding for the long term like Google, his first major stake.
“I was like, that’s going to work,” he said. “It’s not going to work now, but I can see it in the future, it’s going to work.”
O’Neal has never been shy about lending the face of his 7-foot, 1-inch frame for endorsements. Over his career, he’s been the pitchman for products that range from food like Burger King and Taco Bell (YUM) to sports apparel like Reebok and Skechers (SKX) along with other, more unusual, products like sleep apnea masks and electrolyte strip brands.
While the former Los Angeles Laker might be the consummate frontman when it comes to endorsements, O’Neal must personally buy into a product before he will invest in it.
“My style is that if I don’t believe in your product, I will never partner up with you,” he said.
Take his investment in Papa John’s. The company’s pizza was a staple of college-age O’Neal’s diet. He also wanted to get into the franchise business after he saw that former pro basketball player Junior Bridgeman topped the list of best retired athlete businessmen, largely because he owned several Wendy’s franchises.
That piqued O’Neal’s competitive spirit.
“I was like, I want to get in the franchise business. What can I do now?” said O’Neal, who is now on Papa John’s board of directors and has invested in nine Atlanta-area franchises.
O’Neal’s investment in Ring, the digital doorbell and security camera, came after he attempted to rig his home with security cameras, but was appalled by quotes from security companies. Rather than forking over tens of thousands of dollars, Ring caught O’Neal’s eye when he was shopping at Best Buy (BBY).
“It’s affordable,” he said. “It works as well as all my other top security things that I have in my house.”
When it comes to his money and equity, O’Neal is motivated by his sense of entrepreneurial altruism that’s a hallmark to the world’s richest man.
“You know, my style and my method have always been if it’s going to help other people,” O’Neal said. “And I heard the great Jeff Bezos say that’s how he invests in things. If it’s going to change people’s lives, help people, then it’s good.”