Meet the L.A. company behind Shaq’s Fun House Super Bowl party

Two men in front of a carnval "welcome" sign
Joe Silberzweig, left, and Adam Richman, of Medium Rare, a company that builds live-event brands in partnership with global icons, sets up a live event called “Shaq’s Fun House” at the Shrine Auditorium on Feb. 9 in Los Angeles.
(Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)

For Los Angeles business Medium Rare, Super Bowl LVI is a game changer.

The live-events company on Friday night will produce a giant pre-Super Bowl party, with 5,000 tickets sold out at the Shrine Auditorium — hosted by NBA star Shaquille O’Neal.

At the party, which is expected to generate seven figures in gross revenue, guests will snack on food from local businesses like Pink’s Hot Dogs, and musicians including Lil Wayne will perform as part of Shaq’s Fun House.

Medium Rare is among several small businesses in the Los Angeles region that are banking on the Super Bowl to give them a welcome boost after the two-year pandemic halted live entertainment and battered the local economy.

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“L.A. is the entertainment capital of the United States, a place where people love to come visit,” said Adam Richman, one of Medium Rare’s co-founders. “Thankfully, it feels like we’re turning a little bit of a corner on COVID. ... We’re really excited that the Super Bowl’s in L.A. and that we’re able to play a big part in the weekend.”


Fans coming to see the Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals battle it out at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood on Sunday are expected to bring in $477.5 million in economic benefits, according to Micronomics Economic Research and Consulting.

Many Super Bowl attendees will look for ways to entertain themselves outside of the game, eating at local restaurants, staying at hotels and checking out concerts.

“It’s very rare that they’re only going to come for that one event,” said Mazen Bou Zeineddine, a manager at the research firm Beacon Economics. “They’re going to stay a couple of days, and as such, they’re probably going to go around Los Angeles. They’re going to engage in various different recreational activities.”

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Medium Rare, which alludes to the cofounders’ love of steak, aims to cash in on some of the spoils that come from the big game.

Formed in November 2018, Medium Rare hosts a range of live and virtual events, partnering with celebrities such as Shaq, chef Guy Fieri and football star Rob Gronkowski to promote their brands. Past events include beach parties such as “Gronk Beach” and music festivals like DJ Carnage’s Rare Festival.

The business was the brainchild of two executives with years of experience in the live-events industry.


Richman was a former executive vice president at LiveStyle, overseeing business for New York electronic music festival Electric Zoo; co-founder Joe Silberzweig was previously a senior director of business development at Live Nation.

Carnival bumper car setup with a ferris wheel in the background
A worker cleans the rails of the bumper cars getting ready for Shaq’s Fun House.
(Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)

Through their past work experiences, the pair saw that it took a minimum of three years to launch a big music festival and for it to turn a profit.

“We said there’s something wrong with that ... you need to find a way to be profitable out of the gate,” Richman said. “That’s when the light bulb went off in our head.”

To test their idea, the two friends partnered with O’Neal on a carnival-themed music festival, also called “Shaq’s Fun House,” in March 2018 during Miami Music Week.

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The festival drew 2,500 people and had media and sponsorship interest, along with revenue that matched that of much larger events, Richman said.


The duo split the profits with O’Neal and realized they had a successful formula for a business, which they launched in November of that year.

“We quickly realized the power of a celebrity partner and not just booking him for an appearance like so many others do, but actually starting a joint venture business with him, where our celebrity partner is incentivized for the event to be successful” Silberzweig said. “That really opened our eyes to this new potential business model.”

The business took off. Medium Rare projects $30 million in gross revenue this year, up from $21 million in 2021, and says it is profitable. In 2020, the company had about $10 million gross revenue, executives said.

The company makes money by selling sponsorships, VIP tables, merchandise and tickets. Rare Medium covers production costs and splits profits with the celebrity hosts.

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Last year, Medium Rare produced four events, and this year it plans to do at least six.

The company, which has eight full-time employees, has offices in L.A. and New York. Investors include Authentic Brands Group — whose owners include Shaq — which took a 20% stake in Medium Rare in 2020.

General admission ticket prices for Shaq’s Fun House ranged from $300 to $600, with VIP tickets selling for around $1,000 to $1,300. Tickets sold out on Wednesday — with half of the guests coming from out of town — and the event is expected to be the most profitable to date for Medium Rare.

A worker replaces lightbulbs on a merry-go-round
A worker replaces lightbulbs on the merry-go-round for Shaq’s Fun House.
(Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)

The average price for a VIP table was around $20,000. One package priced at $1 million included a private jet for up to 12 people and a fleet of Rolls Royces to take them to the event, a private VIP deck on the stage and unlimited bottles of Brut Champagne.

“I’ve been going to the Super Bowl for about 30 years and mostly all the parties, I hate to say it, are boring, standing around rich people, regular people and nobody was having a good time,” O’Neal said in an interview. “I want people to have the same type of enjoyment that I would do in my own regular house.”