- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Retired basketball star Shaquille O’Neal has revealed that one of his biggest business blunders was when he turned down a lucrative Starbucks deal because it was his idea at the time that “black people don’t drink coffee.”

Mr. O’Neal explained during a recent segment of “In Depth with Graham Bensinger” why he declined to work with Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz.

“So my agent called me up and he says ‘Howard Schultz wants to do business with you,’” he said, Fox News reported. “And I’m like, ‘coffee, eh.’ Because growing up in my household, I’d never seen a black person drink coffee. So it was my thought process that black people didn’t drink coffee.”

According to Mr. O’Neal, Mr. Schulz offered him the opportunity to open Starbucks franchises in predominantly black neighborhoods. Mr. O’Neal, who grew up in Newark, New Jersey, and whose family got their caffeine mostly from sweet tea and hot chocolate, said he didn’t believe in the venture and decided to turn it down.

“So I looked at the great Howard Schultz’s face and said, ‘Black people don’t drink coffee, sir. I don’t think it’s gonna work.’ And you should have seen the look on his face,” Mr. O’Neal said.

“Now we’re still good friends today but that was one of my worst business decisions because now, every time, on every corner in every city, every country you see a Starbucks…I’m like ‘aw.’”

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