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Las Vegas Strip busser given an uplifting experience by Shaq

Updated August 2, 2017 - 10:47 am

Shaquille O’Neal got in a workout after devouring a massive meal at Hexx Kitchen + Bar last week.

But instead of lifting weights, he hoisted a human.

In a most memorable photo op, the ex-NBA great lifted Hexx busser Shannon Gantt and held him aloft. Gantt typically picks up items from tables at the restaurant. He’s never, himself, been picked up — until O’Neal showed up at the Strip-side restaurant on Thursday. O’Neal, who was joined by his family, devoured a lunch order of pancakes, a Hexx omelet and ice cream before greeting the restaurant staff.

O’Neal, a 7-foot-1-inch, 325-pound center who played 19 seasons in the NBA, then looked over Gantt, who stands 5 feet 3 inches tall and weighs (by his own account) 124 pounds.

“One of the guys asked if I we would stand next to each other, and Shaq asked, ‘Do you want to take a funny picture? ‘” said Gantt, who is 29 and is often compared to comics Chris Rock and Kevin Hart. “The next thing I know, it’s, ‘Wooooow!’ “

Gantt is a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers and also a fan of O’Neal, who won three NBA titles in L.A.

“It was all fun and games,” Gantt said. “We aren’t allowed to ask for autographs, and I didn’t want to bother him, but this was a wonderful experience.”

Intense book action

The renovated race and sports book at Wynn Las Vegas opened today. The new sports book at Encore opens Monday. Both are kicking off as scheduled.

Sports book director Johnny Avello said in March that the renovated Wynn betting hovel and the additional book at Encore would be open on these dates. Executive Vice President of Wynn Design and Development Roger Thomas led the design staff for the projects. A sweeping new, 137-foot-wide LED wall and additional 35 monitors are featured in the Wynn space, and the desks are all equipped with USB ports and power outlets (great news for the Kats! Bureau).

Also online at the new Wynn book is Charlie’s Bar & Grill, named for longtime Steve Wynn friend and casino host Charlie Meyerson. The cafe replaces Zoozacrackers Deli, which opened with the original sports book in 2005.

Oscar at Oscar’s

Former Las Vegas Mayor and column fave Oscar Goodman will appear at Oscar’s Beef Booze & Broads at the Plaza from 4:30-6 p.m. Monday. Goodman is to regale guests with tales of his days as a “mob attorney” and his time as an elected official in VegasVille.

Maybe 90 minutes is not long enough for Goodman, given his capacity to spin a yarn.

Goodman is also signing his autobiography, “Being Oscar,” during these sessions. At the Plaza, and in so many haunts in Las Vegas, it’s all about Oscar.

Horse hockey

Welcome to Las Vegas, NHL!

Venerable gentlemen’s club Crazy Horse III has announced its Vegas Golden Knights viewing parties from Oct. 4 through April 7. Specials include a “Bucks for Pucks” deal and $1 admission for guests arriving via their own transportation (as opposed to using the club’s limo service). Guests with a game-day ticket stub to a VGK home game receive a free drink, too, and $20 beer-bucket specials are offered during all NHL games.

Who was where

Thursday: Ex-Jersey Boys cast member Travis Cloer and country great Scotty Alexander (formerly music director for Wayne Newton) at Frankie Moreno’s show at Golden Nugget … Friday: Lance Bass and his husband, Michael Turchin, at the one-year anniversary of “Baz: Star Crossed Love” at Palazzo Theater … Monday: Andrew Taggart and Alex Pall from The Chainsmokers at the Claude Baruk Salon at Wynn Las Vegas. The guys got a haircut and style, Vegas-style … Monday: Emerge Las Vegas founder Rehan Choudhry backstage at The Killers pop-up show at Caesars Palace.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section, and Fridays in Neon. He also hosts “Kats! On The Radio” Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on KUNV 91.5-FM and appears Wednesdays at 11 a.m. with Dayna Roselli on KTNV Channel 13. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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