NBA legend and TNT basketball analyst Shaquille O’Neal wowed employees and customers alike when he paid the tab for every diner at an upscale New York City restaurant on Sunday night.
Dining with a “mystery woman” at the Chelsea hotspot Jue Lan Club, O’Neal ordered Beijing chicken, shrimp tempura and the restaurant’s signature chicken satay.
“She did all the ordering,” an unnamed source told Page Six. Afterward, the former star center left the wait staff “the biggest tip they’ve ever received.”
“And to top that off, he paid for everyone’s check [who was] dining at the restaurant,” the source added. The amount topped out at more than $25,000.
O’Neal, 50, asked the staff not to apprise customers their meals had been purchased by him until after the couple left the restaurant.
The four-time NBA champ has a net worth of around $400 million, but his six children will have to earn their way through life, he said in a 2021 podcast.
“My kids are older now. They kinda upset with me – not really upset – but they don’t understand,” he told the Earn Your Leisure podcast at the time.
“Because I tell them all the time. We ain’t rich. I’m rich,” he added.
“You’ve got to have Bachelor’s or Master’s [degrees] and then if you want me to invest in one of your companies, you’re going to have to present it… bring it to me, I’ll let you know,” O’Neal explained, reminding his kids, “I’m not giving you nothing.”
“I don’t care if you play basketball. I don’t care about none of that,” O’Neal continued.
“Listen, I got six kids,” he said, referring to sons Shareef and Shaqir, as well as daughters Me’arah, Amirah and Taahirah. “I would like a doctor, somebody to own a hedge fund, a pharmacist, a lawyer, someone that owns multiple businesses, someone to take over my business.”
“But I tell them I’m not going to hand it to you. You gotta earn it,” he warned.
O’Neal’s heart seems to be in proportion to his overall hugeness as this is not the first time he’s been generous with strangers.
Last year, the big man paid off the balance on a young man’s engagement ring who had been making installments on a layaway plan at a Zale’s jewelry store.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) April 7, 2021
“I went in there to get some loop earrings and I seen the guy and he was just so shy and he was saying [to the cashier], ‘Hey, how much do I owe to pay off the ring?’ I said, ‘My man, how much is the ring?’” O’Neal said, adding the gesture “is just something I do everyday.”
“I’m into making people happy, so whenever I leave the house I just try and do a good deed. I didn’t mean for that to get out. That’s not why I do it. .. The guy just came in, he was a young kid, hardworking guy.”
“I was like, you know what, ‘Tell your girlfriend I got it, I’ll take care of it. At first he didn’t want to take it,” O’Neal recalled.
“I’m just trying to make people smile, that’s all,” he said.
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