Thursday, September 17, 2015

Shaquille O'Neal passed up Starbucks deal because 'black people don't drink coffee'

There aren't too many products Shaquille O'Neal won't shill for a few extra bucks, but earlier this week, the former NBA great admitted to turning away from a product that might be one of the worst business decisions he ever made: Refusing an offer to team up with Starbucks.

"My agent called me up and he says 'Howard Schultz wants to do business with you,' " O'Neal told Yahoo's Graham Bensinger. "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."
Schultz, Starbucks' CEO, suggested opening franchises in predominantly African-American communities with the Hall of Famer's help. 

O'Neal revealed that he grew up drinking sweet tea and hot chocolate and, at the time of the proposed business venture, O'Neal said as a principle, he only invested in things he believed in.

"No amount of money can make me endorse something I'm not 100-percent behind," O'Neal said. "So I looked the great Howard Schultz in the face, and I said, 'Black people don't drink coffee, sir. I don't think it's gonna work.' "

O'Neal said Schultz was shocked by his response.

"You should've seen his face," the retired NBA star said. 

O'Neal also thinks the decision likely cost him millions.

"That was one of my worst business decisions," he said through laughs. "Now, every time, on every corner in every city, every country, you see a Starbucks, I'm like, 'Awww.' "

And the nickname The Trenta Latte does have a nice ring to it.

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