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Shaq: 'I don't invest in companies just to try and get the big hit'

Shaquille O'Neal
Scott Mlyn | CNBC

Since retiring from the NBA in 2011, Shaquille O'Neal has established himself as a successful businessman. He was an early investor Apple and Google, is the new face of Forto coffee, and owns 17 Auntie Anne's, a Krispy Kreme franchise and several other service companies. But he doesn't do business solely for the money.

"I don't invest in companies just to try and get the big hit," O'Neal tells CNBC Make It. "I [invest] because I know it's going to change people's ideas… change people's lives."

O'Neal, 47, was first inspired to follow this line of thinking by Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos.

"I heard Jeff Bezos say one time [that] he makes his investments based on if it's going to change people's lives," O'Neal told the Wall Street Journal in a recent interview. "Once I started doing that strategy, I think I probably quadrupled what I'm worth."

O'Neal makes sure to do his homework before agreeing to a deal. When investing, he watches what other business leaders are doing and follows their lead.

"My formula is: If you do your due diligence and you see other successful people put into it, it's probably going to work and make sense," O'Neal says.

"When I invest now, it's never about the big hit for me. As a father and a businessman, it's all about setting an example for people. I'm pretty set in my ways. I've been there and done everything."
Shaquille O'Neal
Former NBA player and businessman

However, O'Neal admits that he hasn't always made the best investment choices. When he was younger, he took deals that were too good to be true and ended up losing money. If someone said, "give me a million and in three years, it'll be $10 million — deals like that, I would take every time. … No research, no due diligence," he told CNBC's Power Lunch.

One such deal was a paper company that "turned out to be a scam," O'Neal said.

There are also other opportunities O'Neal turned down that he now regrets. "My biggest mistake was not investing in Starbucks," he told CNBC Make It. "I had the opportunity before Magic Johnson but I told Schultz that black people don't drink coffee because I never seen anyone in my family drink coffee," he said, referring to Starbucks's former CEO Howard Schultz.

Through these experiences, O'Neal developed his formula for investing, which includes building meaningful business relationships, always doing his due diligence and choosing investments that help others.

"When I invest now, it's never about the big hit for me," O'Neal says. "As a father and a businessman, it's all about setting an example for people. I'm pretty set in my ways. I've been there and done everything."

"Now, I just want to create new partnerships, create new friends and whatever happens, happens."

Don't miss: Take a look inside Shaquille O'Neal's $28 million Florida mansion

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