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Celebrities earn an awful lot of money, and more often than not, they throw some of it at fancy cars. But Shaquille O’Neal may have a lot of people beat in terms of how fast he spends his money. As soon as it was in his hands, Shaq bought three brand new Mercedes-Benz cars. Though, in his defense, his heart was in the right place.

Shaquille O’Neal bought three Mercedes cars the day after he got $1 million

After being drafted, Shaq received a million dollars for an endorsement deal. And right after the money hit his bank account, he drove over to the local Mercedes dealership and bought himself a black one. Exactly what kind of Mercedes it was isn’t specified, but it was black-on-black like he’d always wanted.

He rolls up to the dealership and doesn’t even negotiate, saying he would’ve bought it even if the salesperson told him it was $200,000. That said, it ran him $150,000, and he drove it home to show off to his parents. Though, when he arrived, his dad joked “that’s nice, where’s mine?”

Though Shaq took that joke literally and drove his dad to the dealership to get an identical, black-on-black Mercedes. And while they were there, they realized they couldn’t leave mom out. They bought her a slightly smaller Mercedes, but that’s over half a million dollars blown on Mercs.

If the story ended there, maybe it would’ve been all fun and games. However, Shaq didn’t fully understand how much money he was spending and ended up in the hole.

Shaq learned some harsh lessons about managing money

Shaquille O'Neal
Shaquille O’Neal | Nick Agro/E! Entertainment/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

On top of the three Mercedes cars, Shaquille bought jewelry and suits and, eventually, a high-rise condo in downtown San Antonio, in preparation for his move to LA. But after all was said and spent, his bank manager gave him a call.

Shaq failed to take into account FICA and sales tax, and his manager explained that he was actually $80,000 in the red. Luckily for Shaq, his manager was a family friend and gave Shaq a pass knowing he’d be able to pay it off very soon (with more money on the way). But that embarrassment was enough of a wake-up call where Shaq realized he needed a financial advisor.

A key piece of guidance he received was to never trust an advisor that felt too good to be true. And many folks said they could turn Shaq’s 40 million into 200 million by the time he was 23 (if I had 20 million at 23, I’d retire). But he found a trustworthy man, and has toned down his spending habits significantly. And oddly enough, there’s a black-on-black Benz that was recently sold on the Barrett-Jackson auction website.

In 2019, a black-on-black Mercedes Benz was sold in a Barrett Jackson auction

Shaq's 2004 Mercedes-Benz CLK500
Shaq’s 2004 Mercedes CLK500

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While I don’t think this is the same black Mercedes Benz he bought with that first million, this is a Benz built to Shaq’s intense proportions. It’s a 2004 CLK500 convertible (which was only $60,000 when new, so another reason I doubt it’s the same car). But the rear seats have been removed to fit the 7′ 1″ NBA superstar. And yes, it was owned by Shaquille, featured in the DuPont Registry Celebrity Car magazine.

Regardless of whether or not this Mercedes was the Mercedes from the story, what’s important is that Shaq learned a thing or two. Life lessons that apply to everybody, whether they’re rich or poor. Take care of your family, but also be smart with your money.