When Chief Olympia Officer Dan Solomon announced that basketball icon Shaquille O’Neal would be the 2020 Honorary Olympia Ambassador, many people were excited.

“For the most part everyone was amped up to have one of the biggest stars in the world with us this year as part of our whole Olympia experience,” Solomon says in a recent Instagram Live video on the Mr. Olympia’s page.

But many others also asked him one question: Why Shaq? “Some people asked the question, ‘Explain to us why you would have a non-bodybuilder as your ambassador,’” Solomon says. “And it’s a very fair question.”

The answer’s quite simple: “Back when Joe Weider started the Mr. Olympia … the No. 1 objective was to identify ways to introduce the sport of bodybuilding and fitness to the largest possible audience.”

Naming Shaq as this year’s Olympia ambassador follows that tradition. Besides being one of the best basketball players to ever step foot on the court, Shaq’s also an actor, a popular DJ, a businessman, sports analyst, and much more. He’s also a huge bodybuilding fan.

“For us to work so closely with somebody who has his fingers n the pulse of so many parts of the world, it’s an honor for us to do that,” Solomon says.

Shaq took the time to sit down with Solomon in an Instagram Live interview, in which his personal trainer, former IFBB professional bodybuilder Roc Shabazz, also made an appearance. You can watch the interview in its entirety at the bottom of this page.

His goal for Olympia Weekend

Besides promoting the sport and encouraging fans to come out to Las Vegas this December, Shaq has one other goal for Olympia Weekend: a celebrity pose-off.

“You know what my dream is?” Shaq asked Solomon. “To get on that stage and do a celebrity pose-off. I would do it against Busta Rhymes. Busta is a friend of mine so it would be a nice, friendly-competitive thing.”

Getting lean and mean

If that pose-off does happen, fans will have the opportunity to see a new Shaq, physically speaking. Diesel’s been training with the Shabazz for about six years now. Shabazz, a two-time Olympia competitor and highly-sought after celebrity trainer, has helped numerous high-profile clients get into shape, and is Shaq’s own chief fitness officer.

Working alongside the trainer, Shaq is seeing some pretty serious results.

“I saw a 4.2 pack so I got 2.8 packs to go,” Shaq says.

But it wasn’t an urge to get on the stage that got Shaq into hardcore training. “I just didn’t want my belly to go past my belt buckle,” he says.

Watching bodybuilding has also motivated him to get into shape, and look better than one of his good friends. “Those guys just motivate me to not look like Charles Barkley.”

Lifting people’s spirits

Solomon noted that wherever Shaq goes, whether it be a concert or the Olympia, people are always elated to see him and their moods seem to brighten up when he’s in the room. After joking it’s due to his pearly whites, Shaq said he makes a concerted effort to cheer people up.

“We’re all going through tough times right now in 2020, but my motto is always ‘It could be worse,’” he says. “Maybe my smile could be the thing to get them back on track.”

Who should’ve won Olympia 2019

This won’t be Shaq’s first time at the Olympia—he was also in the crowd at the 2019 event.

Speaking on the 2019 event, Shaq said he thought someone besides Brandon Curry should’ve become the 15th man to win a Sandow: Hadi Choopan.

“Roc [Shabazz] says he was probably too big,” Shaq says, “I don’t know what any of that means. I just look at who has the most muscles.”

He did have some love for Brandon, though. “Brandon’s been a hard worker, and he deserved it.”

Looking forward to this year’s event, he’s excited to see 7-time champion Phil Heath return to the stage, but there’s one name missing in his opinion. “I would like to see Kai Greene on stage.”

For more information about the December 17-20th event, including tickets, visit MrOlympia.com as Trifecta Presents Joe Weider’s Olympia Fitness & Performance Weekend brought to you by Northern Chill and by Wings of Strength.

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