Shaquille O’Neal Reportedly Entering Metaverse With Virtual Footwear

Shaquille O’Neal Reportedly Entering Metaverse

Basketball Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal and Authentic Brands Group filed for three trademark applications for the word SHAQ last month for “non-downloadable virtual footwear, clothing, headwear, eyewear” and more “for use in virtual environments,” Footwear News reported Wednesday (Jan. 12).

That sounds an awful lot like Shaq’s first steps toward the metaverse. ABG owns and manages O’Neal’s branded merchandise, and the man of many nicknames is the company’s second-largest shareholder, according to the report. Forever 21, Barneys New York and JCPenney are other brands under the ABG umbrella.

“Just like you might buy a branded product in the real world that says ‘Shaq’ on it, now you might buy one of those in the virtual world,” trademark attorney Josh Gerben of Gerben Law Firm told Footwear News.

O’Neal has said he wants his name to “go on forever,” one of the reasons he said he wanted to partner with ABG, which owns the rights to several other celebrities like Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali, the report stated. ABG filed trademarks in December for Elvis and Sports Illustrated for virtual rights.

“The existing registrations that they have on these brands do not cover virtual goods because virtual goods was not a thing five or 10 years ago,” Gerben told Footwear News. “No one really thought that you might need protection on something like this.”

New York-based ABG owns and manages more than 40 media, entertainment and lifestyle retail brands, ranging from Marilyn Monroe to Eddie Bauer.

See more: From Clothing to Crypto, Celebrity-Owned Brands and Endorsements are Bigger Than Ever

Of course, O’Neal is hardly the only celebrity looking to broaden his brand. The House of LR&C, a Seattle-based fashion startup started by Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and singer Ciara, will seek between $20 million and $50 million from investors this spring in a Series A fundraising round.

Read more: Fashion Startup by Russell Wilson and Ciara Seeking up to $50M in Series A Funding

Meanwhile, Gap and singer, designer and entrepreneur Kanye West have a 10-year, $1 billion deal for his Yeezy line that is 18 months and two product launches deep.

As PYMNTS reported, celebrity endorsements usually work well, but the narrowness of their nature creates a disproportionate exposure linked to the continued good behavior of a single individual.