Making people happy is Shaquille O’Neal’s ‘mission in life,’ and he tells us EXCLUSIVELY that’s why he launched a big and tall model search so men like him could look amazing!
“There was a movement that needed to happen,” Shaquille O’Neal said when talking EXCLUSIVELY with HollywoodLife about teaming up with top model agency Wilhelmina Model to conduct “Shaquille O’Neal’s Big & Tall Model Search presented by JCPenney.” As JCPenny’s Big & Tall Style Ambassador, Shaq saw a chance to help out a part of the population often overlooked by modern fashion. “As a big and tall guy, there’s not a lot of selection on what we can do. If there is, if we do want to wear a suit, we pay an astronomical price. I teamed up with JCPenny and said I want to do a big and tall line, but I want it to do affordable.”
“I want it to be affordable,” Shaq told HollywoodLife.com. “I want the big guys to pay the same price as the little guys are. And they agreed to it. And then we hired some top suit models, and we hired the top suit makers to give us the same quality as all the other suits. And then I worked with JCPenny too. I don’t want to be the face of this by myself. I want to do a model search because there’s not really a lot big of tall models. Why don’t we team up with [Wilhelmina] and we’ll do a model search? And we did a model search all across the country.”
“I and other big guys for so long have had to dress bland,” Shaq told HollywoodLife, “and I wanted the big guys to be able to dress like their favorite little guys and not have to pay a shitload of money for it. I mean, for me, if I wanted to dress like Tom Cruise or Eddie Murphy, it would cost me three or four thousand dollars a suit. But it was time, enough of that. Have the same designers, same material, bring the price down.”
Within just one month, Shaq’s model search received over 15,000 entries, resulting in ten men being awarded contracts with Wilhelmina’s Big & Tall “Titans division.” The winners also landed the opportunity to model alongside Shaq for the Fall JCPenny Big & Tall campaign. While Shaq said he didn’t want to be the sole face of the Shaquille O’Neal XLG line, it’s hard to not want to include the NBA legend. The man just radiates joy.
“I have always been a class clown — it’s natural!” says Shaq. “I think a lot of people can tell when it was natural and a lot of when it is forced. It is just natural, I just love people. Just be nice. It is all about being nice, and it doesn’t happen all the time, which is unfortunate.”
“My momma told me, she said, ‘What are you going to do to make people smile?’ And that was then a mission in my life,” he adds. “Everybody knows what I did and what I have done. When it is all said and done, I want people to say ‘Shaq was a nice guy.’ That means more to me than championships, a million dollars, TV deals, or whatever. ‘Was Shaq a nice guy?’ If they say, he was, then cool. That is what it was all about.”