MCDONOUGH, GA -- Maybe you’ve heard this before: A megawatt celebrity says he wants to get into politics. In this case, it’s basketball star Shaquille O’Neal – telling the Washington Post last week he wants to run for Sheriff of Henry County. He said the same thing to 11Alive News earlier this year.
“When I was coming up, people loved and respected the police, the deputies. And I want to be the one to bring that back,” O’Neal told us in May. “Shaq for Sheriff. Bringing back the old school.”
It might be easy to write off the potential candidacy, except that O’Neal has floated it repeatedly.
“I feel like it would be kind of cool,” said Braelyn Dinino, of O’Neal. She’s a 19 year old who voted for the first time in 2016. “I’m sure he’s a good guy and everything but I’m not sure if he’s like qualified for it.”
It is technically the highest law enforcement post in Henry County.
“What background does have have?” asked Xenia Johnson, a Henry County voter. “Other than basketball. C’mon, you have to be knowledgeable about what it takes to be a sheriff.”
The Shaquille O’Neal candidacy hasn’t exactly taken off yet – in a race that’s still three years away.
“I want the very best person in that seat and I don’t think that person is going to be Shaquille O’Neal,” said state Sen. Emanuel Jones, a Democrat who is a bit of a Shaq skeptic.
“The first thing that comes to mind is, we already have a celebrity in office. And we really don’t need another one,” said Jones, referring to the President of the United States.
Henry County Sheriff Keith McBrayer wouldn’t comment on O’Neal’s interest in his job, or on whether he was planning to run for re-election in 2020.
McBrayer did say he’s talked with O’Neal about his possible candidacy a couple of times. McBrayer also said he hopes that whoever succeeds him in his office will take the job seriously.