Shaquille O’Neal, famously known as Shaq, is one of the most successful and wealthy retired professional basketball players in the world. With an estimated net worth of over $400 million, Shaq has invested his money in a diverse portfolio of companies and franchises. One of the common questions surrounding Shaq’s business ventures is whether he owns the popular burger chain Five Guys.
Shaq’s Business Investments
After retiring from the NBA in 2011, Shaq has focused extensively on entrepreneurship and investing. Some of his major business ventures and investments include:
- Owning over 150 car washes, 40 24-hour fitness centers, and several restaurants across the United States through his holding company Big Chicken Inc.
- Investing in tech startups like Ring, Juno, and NerdWallet.
- Owning over 150 Five Guys restaurant franchises.
- Investing in Las Vegas nightclubs and restaurants.
- Owning 17 Auntie Annie’s pretzel franchises.
With his wide range of investments in restaurants, fitness centers, startups, and more, Shaq has built himself into a highly successful entrepreneur and businessman. His restaurants and food franchises in particular seem to be a strong focus, which leads into the question around Five Guys.
Does Shaq Have Ownership in Five Guys?
Yes, Shaq does have an ownership stake in Five Guys burgers and fries. In fact, he owns over 150 Five Guys franchise locations, making him the second-largest stakeholder in the growing burger chain.
The first Five Guys restaurant was opened in Arlington, Virginia in 1986 by the Murrell family. The founders were Jerry and Janie Murrell, along with their four sons, thus the name Five Guys. Over the next couple decades, the Murrell family organically grew Five Guys to over 1,000 locations by franchising and gaining a cult following for their fresh burgers and fries.
In 2016, Shaq first bought the rights to open 155 Five Guys franchises all across the country. The deal was facilitated by the growth capital firm Granite Growth Advisors, which raised $50 million for Shaq to buy into Five Guys. At the time, Five Guys had close to 1,200 locations, so Shaq’s 155 stores gave him ownership of around 13% of the company.
Here is a breakdown of Shaq’s Five Guys ownership and locations:
- In 2016, Shaq acquired the rights to 155 Five Guys locations.
- As of 2022, there are over 1,600 Five Guys locations worldwide.
- Shaq is believed to own around 150 of those locations now.
- This gives him close to 10% ownership stake in the Five Guys brand.
- The franchises are spread across the United States, with clusters in states like Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Nevada, and California.
Beyond owning 10% of stores, Shaq has been a brand ambassador and spokesperson for Five Guys over the years as well. He has been featured in commercials and ads for the burger chain, further showcasing his business ties to the company.
So in summary – yes, Shaq does own Five Guys franchises. He owns around 150 locations across the U.S., giving him the second largest ownership stake at around 10% of the company. The Murrell family, the founders of Five Guys, still hold the majority stake and ownership.
Why Did Shaq Invest in Five Guys?
When Shaq bought his initial stake in Five Guys back in 2016, it aligned perfectly with his strategy for smart investment opportunities. Here are some of the key reasons Shaq likely invested in Five Guys franchises:
- Huge Growth Potential – When Shaq bought in, Five Guys had grown rapidly to over 1,000 locations in just 30 years. Their track record of growth showed huge promise to keep expanding in the quick service burger market.
- Brand Strength – Even though Five Guys had not reached the same level of ubiquity and fame as McDonald’s or Burger King, it had very strong customer loyalty, brand recognition, and customer satisfaction scores in the burger chain market.
- Differentiation – By focusing on quality, made-to-order burgers with unlimited toppings, Five Guys stood out from typical fast food chains and showed it could compete in a unique market niche that was very profitable.
- Passive Income – Once opened, franchise locations like Five Guys generally run themselves and generate steady revenue while requiring less hands-on effort from the owner.
- Diversification – Shaq had already invested in some other restaurant chains, and Five Guys helped diversify his holdings while staying in a similar category he understood well.
Essentially, Shaq recognized the potential for Five Guys to continue growing rapidly, the strength of its brand reputation, and the passive income opportunities of the franchise model. For an entrepreneur like Shaq seeking new companies to invest his capital in, Five Guys represented an ideal opportunity in 2016 and proved to be a wise investment choice given its continued growth since then.
How Has the Investment Performed?
By all indications, Shaq’s large investment in Five Guys franchises has performed very well and delivered strong returns over the last six years. Here are some key data points about Five Guys growth since 2016:
- Five Guys had approximately 1,200 locations around the world before Shaq invested. It now has grown to over 1,600 locations globally as of 2022.
- Systemwide sales were approximately $1.1 billion in 2016. For 2021, Five Guys reported systemwide sales of $2.3 billion.
- Average sales per store have increased from $1.2 million in 2016 to $1.6 million in 2021.
- Five Guys ranked as the number one burger chain in the United States in 2021 according to QSR Magazine, reflecting its strong market position.
- From 2017 to 2021, Five Guys opened more net new U.S. locations than any of its competitors in the quick service burger market.
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Based on Five Guys’ impressive growth since 2016 across locations, sales, revenue, and market share – it is clear that Shaq’s investment has performed very well. With over 150 locations he owns directly generating franchise revenue and Five Guys brand equity growing substantially since his investment, Shaq has seen strong returns from his reported $50 million investment into the company.
For a high-profile celebrity investor like Shaq, the Five Guys deal also provided priceless media exposure and helped grow his profile as a savvy businessman as well. All in all, his big strategic bet and ownership stake in Five Guys burgers and fries has succeeded wildly based on the numbers and trajectory of the company. It proved to be a slam dunk investment for the NBA Hall of Famer.
How Much Has Shaq Earned?
While the exact profit Shaq has earned from his Five Guys investment is private financial information, we can conservatively estimate he has likely earned over $100 million from the franchises.
According to Five Guys franchise disclosure documents, the average store owner makes around $350,000 per year in personal income. With Shaq owning around 150 locations, assuming they achieve average profitability, that translates to over $50 million per year in income for Shaq.
Based on that figure, Shaq has likely earned well over $100 million in income from Five Guys since his initial investment in 2016. With the brand continuing to grow and expand globally, his personal income from the investment will likely keep rising substantially as well.
Here is a summary of Shaq’s estimated Five Guys earnings since 2016:
- Shaq owns approximately 150 Five Guys locations.
- The average Five Guys franchise owner makes around $350k in profit per year per store.
- That translates to $52 million in annual income for Shaq from Five Guys franchises.
- Since investing in 2016, Shaq has likely earned over $100 million total from his Five Guys ownership stake.
- As Five Guys keeps growing, Shaq’s annual income and total earnings will likely keep increasing.
While it is difficult to pin down exact numbers, it is clear Shaq has already made at least nine figures in personal wealth from his smart investment into Five Guys. Compared to his initial investment of $50 million, he has seen outstanding returns and earnings from the franchises thus far.
Does Shaq Do Anything for Five Guys?
As a major franchise owner and brand investor, Shaq does provide meaningful value to Five Guys beyond just owning locations. Some of Shaq’s major contributions to the company include:
- Being an active brand ambassador and celebrity spokesperson. He frequently appears in Five Guys ads and promotions.
- Leveraging his star power and fame to help market Five Guys restaurants and drive brand awareness.
- Providing business guidance and insights as a strategic advisor to Five Guys executives.
- Investing capital to help fund Five Guys’ continued expansion, letting them scale up faster.
- Helping recruit and onboard other athletes or celebrities as Five Guys franchisees and investors.
- Promoting and highlighting his Five Guys ownership frequently in interviews as free publicity.
While Shaq is not involved in Five Guys’ day-to-day operations, he provides value as an investor and advisor in other meaningful ways. His business savvy and fame offers intangible benefits that support Five Guys’ growth and success in the market.
It is a mutually beneficial relationship, as Five Guys provides income and a profitable investment for Shaq. In return, he amplifies their brand and helps accelerate their growth through promotional opportunities and general awareness he generates.
Does Shaq Actually Eat at Five Guys?
Yes, as a Five Guys franchise owner Shaq does actually eat at Five Guys restaurants fairly regularly. He has been spotted multiple times casually ordering burgers and fries just like any other customer.
Shaq is known to have a big appetite, so it makes sense that he would enjoy the indulgent, customized burgers and unlimited fries and toppings that Five Guys offers. Employees at various Five Guys locations have noted seeing Shaq come in to order food every few months or so when he is nearby.
As part of his ambassadorship role, Shaq also films commercials and promotional content at Five Guys restaurants where he is shown eating their food. So he is definitely a real customer sampling the menu.
With nearly 200 total locations globally, Shaq has easy access to a Five Guys restaurant in many major cities when he is traveling or on the road. While he keeps private about his specific order and habits, employees remark that Shaq often orders multiple burgers and extra-large portions of fries when he stops in.
Between his big appetite and personal love of the food, combined with frequently shooting ads as a sponsor of the company, Shaq is absolutely a regular Five Guys customer. He has the unique ability to enjoy the food at the chain he partially owns at any time.
Does Shaq Actually Own Other Restaurant Chains?
Yes, in addition to his Five Guys investment, Shaq also has ownership stakes in some other restaurant chains and food franchises. He is a prolific investor in the food and beverage industry with holdings beyond just Five Guys burgers and fries.
Some of the other major restaurant and food brands Shaq owns include:
- Krispy Kreme – Shaq owns 27 Krispy Kreme doughnut franchise locations across the U.S.
- Auntie Anne’s – He owns 17 Auntie Anne’s pretzel shops primarily in shopping malls and airports.
- Big Chicken – This is Shaq’s own fast-casual fried chicken chain, of which he currently owns two locations.
- Papa John’s Pizza – Shaq previously had a large ownership stake in Papa John’s as a brand ambassador and franchise owner, but sold in March 2022.
- Wingstop – As part of a brand partnership, Shaq owns three Wingstop franchise locations after investing in the wing chain in 2019.
Diversifying his restaurant and food service holdings has been a key part of Shaq’s investment strategy. Though Five Guys makes up the largest portion of his restaurant empire, he also has stakes in at least a half dozen other recognizable brands. This provides multiple income streams while also increasing his fame and public profile.
In summary, yes – Shaquille O’Neal does have major ownership in the Five Guys burger and fries franchise. Specifically:
- Shaq owns approximately 150 Five Guys locations, making him the 2nd largest franchisee.
- His ownership stake equates to around 10% of the Five Guys company.
- He initially invested $50 million for his franchises in 2016.
- Shaq has likely earned over $100 million in total income from Five Guys since his investment.
- He provides promotional value to Five Guys as an investor and brand ambassador.
- Shaq frequently eats at Five Guys restaurants as a legal owner of the company.
- He also has ownership stakes in several other major restaurant chains.
Owning Five Guys franchises has clearly been a slam dunk business decision for Shaq. His investment provided a major new income stream while allowing Five Guys to leverage his fame to accelerate growth. It demonstrates how celebrities like Shaq can parlay their resources into smart investments and franchises to diversify their wealth. With Five Guys continuing to expand, Shaq’s ownership stake will likely keep appreciating in value and delivering substantial returns for years to come.