Driven to Prove Intelligence by Mother’s Tears, Shaquille O’Neal’s Truth Unearthed by Big Chicken CEO After Eye-Opening Probe

There’s something the folks at Big Chicken are privileged to experience that others aren’t. That would be a firsthand experience of Shaquille O’Neal‘s larger-than-life personality. While O’Neal maintains a lighthearted mood, it would be foolish to not give Big Aristotle his flowers. Shaq has always maintained that he is more than just an athlete. And with some unique motivation from his mother, the business mogul has proved his mettle on various occasions. This was further proven by the CEO of Shaq’s fast-food empire.

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Josh Halpern stopped by ES Fancast to talk all about working with Shaquille O’Neal and leading the Big Chicken train. His first official meeting with the Los Angeles Lakers legend was very interesting by his account.

Shaquille O’Neal scouted Big Chicken CEO


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After launching in 2018, Big Chicken went from an exclusive Shaquille O’Neal joint to a rapidly expanding national chain. To make their national domination plans happen, they brought on Josh Halpern as the CEO in 2021. Halpern has experience in running multi-unit franchises making him a perfect fit. Shaq’s friend and agent, Perry Rogers contacted him first. Rogers is the ‘R’ in JRS Hospitality, the hospitality group behind Big Chicken . After the initial conversation with Rogers, Halpern was poised for a meeting with Big Diesel himself.

He came to the St. Louis Brewery, and he gave me this monstrous bear hug. I felt like a little teddy bear,” Halpern said about his very first official meeting with the 7’1″ gentle giant.

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At that time, Halpern was majorly involved with Budweiser and their Las Vegas restaurant Beer Park. That served as the background of his meeting with the founders of Big Chicken at Budweiser’s historic brewery in St. Louis. Months later, Halpern and O’Neal launch a Big Chicken outlet in St. Louis’ Busch Stadium.

Halpern had met the four-time NBA champion in passing along with the folks at JRS Hospitality during his tenure at Anheuser-Busch InBev. However, at the brewery, Shaq’s stature and the personality that surpassed it awed Halpern.

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On a tour of the brewery, Shaq had “deep probing questions” for his future CEO who was initially mistaken Shaq wasn’t paying attention. Halpern knew then that the NBA legend is more than just a celebrity name attached to a brand. “This is one of the most authentic people out there. He’s not just the face, he very, very much is instilling his values, his mind in everything.” 

As per Halpern, O’Neal doesn’t switch between an on-air and off-air persona. He is himself 24×7. “Shaquille is exactly who he is. He has such an off-the-charts level of authenticity.”

Big Chicken embodies Shaq’s personality

Shaquille O’Neal once said  that business reps looking for his investment would treat him like an athlete and talk to the people he hired instead.


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Provoked by his parents and out to prove the misconceptions about pro-athletes wrong, Shaq went back to school. He completed his bachelors and masters in business and got an Ed.D, becoming Dr. Shaquille O’Neal. That prefix was enough to make his mother cry.

O’Neal expects to be pitched to directly and he has all the aptitude to conduct business. Halpern learned that in his first meeting with Shaq.

A Knicks fan, he claims he’s always been the Lakers star’s fan. After that first meeting, he had a new appreciation for not only the media personality but also “Shaquille O’Neal – the person.”


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Halpern preserves that authentic Shaq brand image fueling Big Chicken. This is the official confirmation that the Shaq we see is what we get.

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Author: ZeroToHero

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