Why Shaq Refused to Work With Starbucks

'That was one of my worst business decisions'
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 14, 2015 3:00 PM CDT
Updated Sep 19, 2015 7:31 AM CDT
This June 3, 2011, file photo shows Shaquille O'Neal announcing his retirement from NBA basketball at his home in Windermere, Fla.    (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

(Newser) – Basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal made what sounds like an honest mistake when it came to investing in Starbucks, Fox News reports. Sitting down with sports reporter Graham Bensinger, O'Neal says he rebuffed a business offer from Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz: "So my agent called me up and he says, 'Howard Schultz wants to do business with you,'" says O'Neal. "And I’m like, 'Coffee, eh,' because growing up, in my household, I’d never seen a black person drink coffee. So it was my thought process that black people didn’t drink coffee." At the O'Neal household, he says with a laugh, the caffeine fix came from hot chocolate and sweet tea.

Schultz still gave O'Neal the chance to open more than one Starbucks in mostly black communities, but the now-retired NBA star said no thanks. "So I looked at the great Howard Schultz’s face and said, 'Black people don’t drink coffee sir, I don’t think it's gonna work.' And you should have seen the look on his face," says O'Neal. "Now we’re still good friends today but that was one of my worst business decisions because now, every time, on every corner in every city, every country you see a Starbucks … I’m like, 'Aw.'" See video of O'Neal's chat with Bensinger at Yahoo! Sports.

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