You may have seen our previous posts here on ShaqFu Radio…about how Shaq just this year came out and announced he cast his ballot in the U.S. elections – for the first time ever. A surprise, for sure. But good news… in that the Big Man came to the conclusion that he needed to be a voter in 2020.
You might be wondering (like we’re wondering) why it took O’Neal all this time to decide he needed to vote. Yes, this year is being touted as one of the most important elections in American history, and that may have played a part in his decision.
In a new article just published in USA TODAY this week, reporter Mark Medina talked to O’Neal about his decision. For the full article, you can click here.
As Medina’s story says, the former NBA champ and MVP is pretty much always ready to express himself and his opinions on sports, social issues, business and lots more. Still, when it comes to expressing himself through the ballot box, that’s not been the case.
On one of his recent podcasts (“The Big Podcast” with Shaq), O’Neal said he voted for the first time this year, doing it via absentee ballot.
Shaq to USA TODAY: “I don’t have any excuses, but I didn’t have time. That’s a bad excuse. My mom was disappointed. Uncle Jerome was disappointed. But this year, I made time.”
Not only that. It seems Shaq has decided that this is the year to get deeply involved in politics. O’Neal has confirmed that he participated in a virtual rally to support Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden. Shaq didn’t really talk about the specifics of his support.
Other media reports say that Shaq was part of a virtual, online rally for alumni of historically black colleges and universities put together by comedian Tiffany Haddish and civil rights activist Ruby Bridges.
Along with that, O’Neal has been part of a get-out-the-vote effort with Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum. It’s called the “MyStartingFiveChallenge.” It’s all about nominating five friends to register to vote by typing “#MyStartingFive” on social media platforms.
Shaq gets it: “I don’t like being a hypocrite if I’m asking everybody to vote and enact change, I can’t ask people to vote if I don’t vote.”
Shaq has been a bit more active in local races. Financial records show O’Neal has helped five sheriffs and a district attorney candidate in local elections. O’Neal has a close relationship with law enforcement after two of his uncles worked as police officers in Newark, New Jersey.
Shaq says it’s a positive thing that people are looking for change, and are willing to vote for it. “There’s a lot of people speaking out and a lot of people that are fed up. That is good. But just like any business, there has to be proper planning,” O’Neal said. “We’re making a lot of noise, and now we have to urge people to vote and get people in places that understand what we’re talking about so laws can be changed. That’s how you get stuff done.”