Shaq's McDonald's Order Is The Menu's Greatest Hits

If you strip away the grueling schedule and intense workout regime, pro basketball players are just like us. For example, retired NBA player Shaq even enjoys fast food. According to an episode of "The Big Podcast," O'Neal is a casual McDonald's lover. "When I go to McDonald's, [my order is] a number one, double cheeseburger and 10 nuggets and a Diet Coke because I'm on the diet," he says. Shaq also explains that he's a "creature of habit," and his order never changes.

At approximately 320 pounds, Shaq is a giant on and off the court. However, with his weight came health problems that were addressed at a doctor's appointment in early 2022. "When they hit you with that three-letter word that starts with D and ends with E, it changes stuff up," he reveals in an interview with GQ. His doctor advised him to use a sleep machine for his sleep apnea and to quit taking painkillers. Although he still likes to hit the McDonald's drive-thru now and then, Shaq typically eats foods he views as more nutritious.

Shaq loves treating McDonald's employees

In that interview with GQ, Shaq also shares what he really eats in a day. He usually eats five meals daily, each with nutrition in mind. "I eat a healthy breakfast just to hold me for the day: three turkey sausages and about four or five egg whites. Meal two is gonna be some fruit. Meal three is gonna be a shake and fruit. Meal four is probably gonna be a light salad, and then meal five is gonna be chicken, fish, or steak," he says. He explains that he sometimes falters on his diet when he's on the road and unable to cook.

When Shaq visits McDonald's, he makes sure to take care of the employees. "When I go to McDonald's and order food for me and my ... friends, and the kids bring it, I'll give them a $200 tip. I'm not about to go in there and cook it and do it. You're doing that for me? Appreciate you, big homie. Thank you," he says in a YouTube video. He also never cuts the line, despite his status. 

Shaq used to eat Mickey D's before each game

While these days Shaq just eats that one McDonald's meal, during his playing career he was hitting up the Golden Arches multiple times per day. His game day routine, as he admitted to Yahoo! News, involved going to McDonald's for breakfast and then again for lunch, although he would then opt for a non-fast food restaurant for his post-game meal.

These days, the big man expresses some regret for his lack of nutritional knowledge back in the day. He says that as a kid living in low-income housing, high-quality foods weren't really a priority, nor were they necessarily readily available. As the USDA notes, high-poverty neighborhoods are more likely to be food deserts where nutritional offerings are either inaccessible, unaffordable, or both.

Shaq was hardly the only NBA star of the '90s to profess a love of fast food. One of Michael Jordan's former teammates claimed that His Airness also ate McDonald's for breakfast every day and he once even inspired a limited-edition namesake McJordan burger. Charles Barkley, too, had an Egg McMuffin, sausage, and hotcakes habit and he's claimed that he'd eat these items while riding on a training bike. O'Neal does say, though, that if he had known more about healthy eating all those decades ago, he not only would have passed on twice-daily Mickey D's meals but might still be playing today.

He had a very brief career as a McDonald's employee himself

According to McDonald's, some 12.5% of Americans (1 out of every 8 people) have served time behind one of its cash registers or deep fryers. Even the great Shaquille O'Neal himself was among that number, although his paper-hatted tenure did not last long at all. As he told Jimmy Kimmel, once he grew old enough to seek employment, his dad gave him an ultimatum: Either get a job or babysit your siblings. He opted for the latter and was soon hired on by McDonald's. The very same day Shaq began his ill-fated McDonald's career, it also came to an untimely end. 

No, Shaq did not leave that Golden Arches umbrella because there were no uniforms large enough to fit his supersized frame. Instead, he was seen snitching fries (darn those tasty temptations!), so maybe he decided to quit the job before it could quit him. This single day's worth of work experience, though, did give him some real respect for those of us who do have to work at "real jobs" every day rather than getting to play a sport, act in movies, or appear on TV. He does still maintain some connections to the fast food world, though, as the owner of franchises including Auntie Annie's Pretzels, Krispy Kreme, and Papa John's.