When two of the most venerated athletes of all-time in their respective sports team up for a project away from the game, the venture is met with both question marks and nervous excitement. Throw in the fact that those athletes are also two of the most charismatic and magnetic personalities in the entertainment industry, with deep ties to electronic music, and you have a bona fide fever pitch and a can't-miss spectacle.
Enter Shaquille O'Neal and Rob Gronkowski, who have coalesced their resplendent event brands into a virtual party called "Shaq's Fun House vs. Gronk Beach." The three-hour virtual fundraiser this Saturday, June 27th, which is directing donations to NAACP Empowerment Programs and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, is primed to become one of the biggest livestream events to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. The stream will feature Shaq and Gronk competing in a series of outlandish challenges, including a lip-sync battle, jousting, a chicken-wing-eating contest, and game of HORSE, all the while inviting fans to engage in real-time.
Ahead of his momentous livestream event, we spoke with Shaq about his "party with a purpose," how many hot wings he can realistically throw down, and his unique relationship and rivalry with Gronk.
EDM.com: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Shaq. I can only imagine how busy you are, so I really appreciate you taking the time.
Shaquille O'Neal: No problem. Quarantine hasn't kept me as busy as I'd like to be—I want to get back behind the decks ASAP.
EDM.com: An event of this magnitude doesn't happen out of thin air, or from the stars coincidentally aligning. What inspired you to start planning this? Was there an "a-ha" moment?
Shaquille O'Neal: The minute I met Gronk I knew we were meant to be friends. I thought, 'Oh my God this is my twin brother', because we literally met while getting into a dance battle at the debut of Shaq’s Fun House in Miami… pretty great start to a friendship.
We both look at life with a positive perspective, always wanting to make an impact in the world with everything we do. When COVID broke out we both knew the sports and music world were going to get hit hard. I always tell people sports and music are the two things that unite people like no other so when we had the chance to combine our two festival brands together to create one epic event, it was a no-brainer.
Gronk and I will compete in our normal, outstanding, and funny ways except this time it's for a party with a purpose, something that's right up our alley!
EDM.com: We've heard of PIG and HORSE when it comes to basketball, but a game of YAPPA? What's the story there?
Shaquille O'Neal: Do you know how many times I have won a traditional game of HORSE? I would say—hit or miss—5856. But do you know how many times I have won a game of YAPPA? 0. I am about to change that on the 27th when I take down Gronk in front of the whole world!
We didn’t just change the name though, we’re also changing how we play because viewers from all around the world can leave a Yap on ShaqvsGronk.com, challenging Gronk and I to take any shot. It’s like leaving a written comment, but better and easier. We all want to see Gronk attempt, and miss, a skyhook from half court so I hope viewers Yap some pretty challenging shots.
EDM.com: On that note, as of one of the best players the NBA has ever seen, I think we can agree that a loss to Gronk would be devastating. Care to use our platform to dish out a line or two of friendly trash talk?
Shaquille O'Neal: Gronk, you know I love you. You’re one of my favorites on and off the field but if you think you have a shot at winning any challenge on Saturday, you’re wrong. The General’s Lip Sync Battle? Nope. The Grill Mates Steak Challenge? Nope. I'm yawning.
EDM.com: Shots fired. Another major event here is the Buffalo Wild Wing Blazin Challenge. Your face after tasting the Carolina Reaper on "Hot Ones" speaks for itself, but I’m curious—in your honest opinion, how many wings do you think you will throw down during this challenge? How are you preparing for this?
Shaquille O'Neal: Me and spicy foods have an interesting relationship. For the most part, we hate each other, but I think I’ll take down 5 wings. The first wing or two will go quickly but I know what I’m up for. I'll have at least a dozen wings in the days leading into the competition but I don't think there's really any true way to prepare for this one.
EDM.com: What can you tell our readers about the stream's "Sports Showdown," considering it involves two of the best athletes their respective sports have ever seen?
Shaquille O'Neal: This one is going to prove why I am the most dominant athlete compared to Gronk. I thought I already proved that by having more rings, but I guess not.
This epic contest puts us through the ultimate mini obstacle course where Gronk and I are competing in a timed race that will include golf putting, a basketball free throw shot (I'm known for my free throws), a football toss, and a fan-voted challenge. The winner, AKA me, will receive a $10,000 donation for our partnered organization on behalf of Rocket Mortgage.
EDM.com: You and Gronk go way back. Describe your relationship with him in 3 words.
Shaquille O'Neal: Positive, fun, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
EDM.com: You're labeling the event as a "party with a purpose." Can you dive into its charitable aspects?
Shaquille O'Neal: This is a party with a purpose because the sole intention behind putting it all together with Gronk was to bring a source of happiness and positivity to the world, even if it's just for a few hours during our livestream. We are both very in tune with the world and know that society as a whole could use a pick-me-up. We needed to conjoin forces to create a platform strong enough to fight for social justice rights in a meaningful way.
We’ve partnered with unbelievable organizations such as the NAACP and the Boys and Girls Club to provide monetary relief where needed and partnered with DoorDash to provide 1 meal for every viewer up to 1.25 million. Papa Johns and I also have a surprise in store as well. We want to make people laugh, sing, dance, and enjoy every second of the broadcast while making a huge impact in the world. We’ll make sure to do that!
The "Shaq's Fun House vs. Gronk Beach" livestream event will take place this Saturday, June 27th at 8PM ET (5PM PST) via TikTok and the event's dedicated website, which you can find here.