Shaquille O'Neal Embraces His Inner Tech Geek at SXSW

By: USA Today Email
By: USA Today Email

(USA Today) -- One of the most recognizable and quirky people on Twitter -- not to mention, Earth -- Shaquille O'Neal visited SXSW for the first time this week.

"I'm a techie. I'm a nerd. I'm a geek," Shaq said in an interview. "And I'm proud to say it and acknowledge it."

The former NBA great, resplendent in an all-black suit, was in town to tout Tout, a sort of visual Twitter that has quickly earned 150 million members -- largely through its affiliation with WWE. Shaq announced his retirement on Tout.

O'Neal was also here to indulge in a favorite pasttime: looking at and buying gadgets. (He said he added to his digital camera collection.)

"Let me break down how Tout fits in," said Shaq, who has 6.8 million Twitter followers and was among the first athletes to use the micro-blogging service. "In communications, the cave man wrote on a rock with Twitter, took their photos on black-and-white cameras with Instagram, and now show all -- rather than tell all -- on Tout."

Related Story: Shaq Finally Got Revenge on Aaron Carter

The 7-foot-1, 325-pound O'Neal, sequestered away in a private room just across the street from the Austin Convention Center, said he uses social media to make people laugh (60% of his tweets or touts), inform them with quotes and insight (30%) and to "sell stuff" (10%).

One of his favorite quotes is from former president Dwight Eisenhower, who as commander and chief and a World War II general preached the importance of hiring smart people.

Most of all, Shaq -- who has always shown an affinity for technology -- shared his love of high-tech equipment. When he first heard of iPhone, he said he stalked then-Apple CEO Steve Jobs with email and phone calls. "I kept saying, 'Steve, I need an iPhone,'" Shaq said. "He said he couldn't help me… but I eventually got one."

O'Neal said he's also a "sucker for apps" like Instagram and Shazam (not to be confused with his movie, Kazaam).


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