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Shaquille O’Neal Is On The Run From FTX Lawsuit Process Servers

2:55 PM EDT on April 7, 2023

Shaquille O'Neal wears a hat and becomes practically invisible.
Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty|

If you look very closely at this image for a long time, you may start to see the outline of Shaquille O’Neal.

A lawsuit filed in November 2022 accuses FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried and an eye-popping grab-bag of celebrity endorsers of using "false representations and deceptive conduct" to lure investors into purchasing "unregistered securities in the form of yield-bearing accounts" with the now-kerploded FTX cryptocurrency platform. Ensnared in this mess are lots of famous people who were paid to talk up FTX: Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen, Stephen Curry, David Ortiz, Naomi Osaka, Trevor Lawrence, and others, including even dear sweet Shohei Ohtani, are accused of "driving retail consumer adoption" of FTX's shoddy investment products as paid brand ambassadors, and thus of being complicit in the financial ruin caused by what is described in the lawsuit as "the Deceptive FTX Platform."

There is a paragraph in the original complaint, under the section header "The Defendants Aggressively Marketed the FTX Platform," dedicated to the activities of Hall-of-Famer and current TNT hoops analyst Shaquille O'Neal. In June 2022—it's incredible how quickly this all blinked into and out of existence—FTX posted a video to its Twitter account announcing a partnership with "the one ... the only ... @SHAQ!" In the 30-second video, O'Neal says "I'm excited to be partnering with FTX to help make crypto accessible to everyone." There is even a screenshot of the tweet embedded in the complaint (which is embedded below).

As he is a defendant in what is now a class action lawsuit, O'Neal will be called upon to participate in the proceedings. But there's a problem: Despite being one of the largest people on the planet, and despite appearing on television weekly, and despite making himself available to endorse approximately every product sold anywhere on the planet, O'Neal has managed to successfully evade the poor process servers assigned to complete a personal delivery of the summons, complaint, and multidistrict litigation (MDL) petition related to the case. Friday morning one of the plaintiffs' attorneys filed a declaration in support of a motion to serve O'Neal through alternate means, after what sounds like a hellish four months spent trying to track O'Neal across the breadth of our dumb nation, using property records, records from other legal proceedings, and even O'Neal's prolific social media activity to try to pin down his whereabouts.

It seems evident that O'Neal is making a deliberate effort to avoid this lawsuit. While I am sympathetic to anyone who hopes that by ignoring unwanted official documents they and their associated consequences will simply go away, O'Neal (or someone working on his behalf) has apparently gone beyond what you or I might consider reasonable efforts to escape these process servers. According to the declaration filed Friday, a process server identified here only as Mr. Shaw made eight attempts to serve O'Neal at a Texas residence, over a period of "nearly a month," each time leaving a business card so that O'Neal would eventually have contact information for receiving documents related to the lawsuit. It was after the eighth and final attempt at reaching O'Neal at this residence that Mr. Shaw received a text message reading, "shaq lives in the Bahamas u stupid fuck give beth shaw my regards."

For one thing, the part about O'Neal's living situation appears to be false. The declaration notes that a "Plaintiffs' investigation confirms O'Neal does not live in the Bahamas." It is also funny that whoever told this apparent lie placed O'Neal in the very place where a similarly slippery Bankman-Fried was eventually arrested, back in December. More ominously, the declaration states that Beth Shaw is the name of the process server's wife, and as the declaration notes, this is not something O'Neal or one of his associates would know without having done some amount of research into the server, possibly including a background check. The only reason you would want a process server to know that you had researched their background and discovered the name of their spouse is presumably to freak that person out. Mr. Shaw certainly got that message, and "was no longer comfortable attempting to personally serve Mr. O’Neal with process, fearing for his and his wife’s safety," according to Friday's declaration.

So someone—either Shaq or a person who lives in one of Shaq's homes and would have reason to want to mislead a process server about Shaq's whereabouts—knows that a court is attempting to serve O'Neal with documents related to a class-action lawsuit in which he is named as a defendant. But rather than accept the documents or facilitate their delivery, this person preferred to intimidate a process server by namedropping that person's spouse. Seems very cool! The declaration is embedded below, for your perusal.

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