Shaquille O'Neal may be the most beloved man in Metro Atlanta right now.
When we started to worry about the 60-year-old Krispy Kreme Doughnuts on Ponce de Leon, he bought it. Because he loves doughnuts.
When a teen live streamed an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound, and the family’s grief went viral, Shaq quietly stepped up to pay funeral expenses.
When a 5-year-old girl was mauled by a dog on her way to the bus stop, Shaq visited her in the hospital and helped the family makes ends meet.
He rarely looks for media opportunities, but is open and friendly when we happen to catch him at one of his many events. His good works have become so frequent, and the social media buzz surrounding him so strong, the rumors were inevitable. Could he become King of the World, er, um, we mean mayor of Atlanta?
“Mayor no, I would never run for mayor,” he told 11Alive News on Friday.
Photojournalist Bruce Mason was apologetic about the question his Director of Digital Content (that’s me) insisted he ask.
But then, the bombshell: “In 2020, I plan on running for Sheriff.”
SHAQ FOR SHERIFF?! Yep, he’s serious.
He could run for Sheriff in Henry County, where he is a resident. The incumbent there is up for reelection in 2020. He could run in Florida where he also has residency. He also could move somewhere between now and 2020, and establish new residency.
“I haven’t made my mind up yet,” he said.
When asked why he would run, Shaq had a quick and ready answer.
“This is not about politics. This is about bringing people closer together,” Shaq said. “You know, when I was coming up, people love and respected the police, the deputies. And, I want to be the one to bring that back, especially in the community I serve.”
Shaq says he’s perfect for the job, because he can relate to everyone. “I can put on a suit and have a conversation with Bill Gates. I can go in the hood and talk to the homies, and talk to the children.”
He’s been sworn in as an honorary deputy in Clayton County, but has little real law enforcement experience. Shaq said he’d make up for that lack of experience with a solid team: “I know how to run a team. My style is going to be to surround myself with guys who have been doing it way longer than I’ve been doing it. Surround myself with smarter people.”
At the end of the interview, Shaq pointed at the camera, and in a deep movie voice-over vibrato said, “Shaq for Sheriff! Back to the old school.”
This is an election we can’t wait to see.