Shaquille O'Neal has landed yet another endorsement deal, this time thanks to a past connection.
The center-turned-broadcaster, who will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in September, has signed on as the first athlete spokesman of The General, an auto insurance company O'Neal used in the late '80s to cover his Ford Bronco II while playing at LSU.
"I got the car for $2,200 and my dad said, 'Now you need insurance,'" O'Neal recalled. "I remember asking him what insurance was and why I needed it and eventually had a policy with The General."
O'Neal was talking at an event last July for American Family Insurance, and while there he found out that American Family owned The General, which handled the higher-risk side of the business, often for people with lower credit scores.
At the time, the company was using a combination of an animated character and celebrity spokespeople to pitch its insurance, but they decided to forge a partnership with O'Neal, whose endorsement career has involved several deals with value brands.
He has a line of suits at Macy's, a jewelry line at Zales, and his Shaq-brand shoes sell for $19.99 to $39.99.
"We share the same values as Shaq," said John Hollar, president of The General. "We are both authentic, fun and approachable, and we care about both value and quality."
O'Neal also has endorsement deals with Gold Bond and IcyHot, plus a line of fruit punch with Arizona Iced Tea.
Earlier this year, Authentic Brands Group bought the rights to 51 percent of O'Neal's future income and will receive revenue on his endorsement and licensing deals.