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Shaquille O’Neal had interesting reason for turning down Starbucks

Shaquille O’Neal recently recalled what he now refers to as one of his “worst business decisions” when relaying a story about how he turned down what likely would have been an extremely lucrative endorsement offer from Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz.

O’Neal told Graham Bensinger during an interview that he was approached by Schultz, who wanted to partner with the NBA superstar to help expand Starbucks’ growing coffee shop empire into predominantly black communities. But O’Neal wasn’t interested.

And his reason for rejecting the offer? He insisted that black people don’t drink coffee so the efforts would be futile.

“My agent called me up and he says ‘Howard Schultz wants to do business with you,’” O’Neal said, as transcribed by the New York Daily News. “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.”

Given how he couldn’t endorse the concept, O’Neal says he couldn’t partner up with Starbucks and Schultz, so he declined the offer.

“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,” he said.

But the NBA icon doesn’t look back on the rejection without a tinge of regret.

“Now, every time, on every corner in every city, every country you see a Starbucks, I’m like, ‘Awww,'” he said.

Fair enough. Starbucks actually is kind of a big deal, after all. Although the notion of the already-excitable O’Neal being all jacked-up on caffeine courtesy of all the free Starbucks he would have received would have made Cosmo Kramer’s jittery overindulgence in Caffe Lattes seem minor.