The larger-than-life NBA player appears on the Sept. 19 season premiere of Animal Planet's Tanked
At 7’1″ and 324 lbs., Shaquille O’Neal needs to have everything custom made: his cars and motorcycles, even his shoes – which, at size 23, are nearly twice the size of those of other mortals.
“I’m a big guy,” the former NBA center tells PEOPLE as he sits in the sprawling kitchen of his Orlando, Florida, home. (Seriously: It’s so big, there’s even an echo.)
“I can’t really buy regular things and have them fit,” he says. “And I’m a perfectionist. I like things to be done right.”
So, when O’Neal, 42, wanted a fish tank for the living room of his 8-bedroom, 10½-bathroom residence, he hired the stars of Animal Planet’s Tanked to design and custom build a unit.
The show’s stars, Brett Raymer and Wayde King, immediately started sketching out possibilities, managing to come up with an acrylic behemoth that incorporated two of O’Neal’s nicknames – Superman and Diesel.
The final product includes a full-size grill of a truck that surrounds a 250-gallon tank stocked with exotic fish.
And yes, it is huge.
Inviting PEOPLE to observe the installation – though he himself was barred from the living room until it was fully in place – the naturally gregarious O’Neal said before witnessing the final product: “I trust Wayde and Brett to get it right. They’re professionals.”
That’s not to say everything went smoothly.
“Every project has its share of headaches,” Raymer told PEOPLE. “And this was no different. But Shaq is easy to work with, so it was a good process.”
“We built the whole thing,” added King. “But then the truck to transport it never showed up. So we had to rent a U-Haul, take the tank apart and get it into the U-Haul – and it didn’t exactly fit right. Shipping can be a headache sometimes.”
Then again, everything eventually worked out, and the tank was successfully installed.
Shaq’s reaction when he first saw it? Without spoiling too much, let’s just say that it involved a cowboy hat and an impromptu square dance.
The entire process – and the hilarious reaction – can be seen on the Season 5 premiere of Tanked, airing at 10 p.m. on Sept. 19 on Animal Planet.
“They did an awesome job,” O’Neal tells PEOPLE. “It’s better than I ever imagined. I want them to come back and do another tank that goes around my bed. And that one will be huge!”