How a Bet with the Police Forced Millionaire Shaquille O’Neal to Make a Noble Gesture Helping Thousands of Kids

Published 11/21/2022, 2:19 PM EST

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Not many celebrities and athletes indulge in philanthropic work on a whim, especially on the back of a trivial bet. But 4x NBA champion and Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal is built a little differently. Over the course of his storied life, the Big Fella has done things many only dream of doing. Like his illustrious career in the NBA, O’Neal also has a rich history in philanthropy.

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Apart from being one of the greatest players to ever play the game, O’Neal has had quite the life outside of basketball. Through prudent investing and successful ventures, O’Neal has amassed a vast fortune since his retirement. However, unlike many, the Big Aristotle has used a significant chunk of his wealth towards charitable causes. Among his many generous contributions to society, his work in a city in Kansas stands out among the rest.

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Shaquille O’Neal gifts thousands of tablets on the back of a bet

Earlier this year, Shaquille O’Neal made an appearance in Wichita, a city in Kansas, for a charity basketball game. The Hall of Famer was attending the Kansas Literacy Festival Hoops event at Koch Arena. Moreover, the Big Fella was accompanied by Sedgwick County’s Deputy Sheriff Vince Folston.

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However, unlike O’Neal, who was there as an honorary guest, Deputy Folston played in the game. Folston and O’Neal went back and forth, engaging in amusing banter throughout the game. Interestingly, the exchange evolved into a bet that forced O’Neal to make a noble gesture. At halftime, Folston walked up to the Big Diesel, apologized for missing a dunk, and then promised to make one in the next half. O’Neal, who was having fun pulling Folston’s leg, jokingly denied him an autograph. O’Neal said, “If you don’t get a dunk in the second half, you’re not getting an autograph.” Moreover, before the second half started, the 4x champion called out Folston and declared that if he made that dunk, O’Neal would buy tablets and shoes for the underserved children in the community. To the joy of everyone, Folston made the dunk. 

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O’Neal honored the bet and partnered with Storytime Village, known for giving out books and resources to children in need. But this time, they were handing out tablets donated by O’Neal. The qualified families lined up for the event in the early morning to get their hands on the free tablets.

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These tablets came with preloaded educational resources and activities. Moreover, sponsored by Moolah Wireless, the tablets also came with free internet for a year. But that’s not the end of the story. Next month, Shaq would be donating a thousand pair of shoes.

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Written by:

K Shrijith

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K Shrijith is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. Currently pursuing his BBA degree, Shrijith has a keen interest in the world of finance. In fact, he has past experience in equity research and writing research reports on the subject of finance.
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Edited by:

Satagni Sikder

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