Basketball legend Shaqiulle O'Neal and superstar comedienne Melissa McCarthy are the latest celebrities to add their voices to Amazon's Alexa smart speaker devices. The pair are the latest celebrities to lend their voices to the device, which means they will be there to answer questions, play music, give directions, rap, and all the other things people ask their Alexa devices to do. The custom voices, which replace Alexa's default voice, will run you $4.99 and are only available in the United States so far. According to O'Neal, it took months, with microphones set up in his home, to train the smart speaker to talk in Shaq-ese.
Aside from smartening up some phrases that he said sounded "too corporate," O'Neal said that a lot of the experience was tedious. He described the more than sixty dedicated hours of recording as being like reading from a dictionary.
"I just wanted to add my personality to the Alexa experience," O'Neal told Variety. "I think the fans are gonna love it. They're going to see a unique side of me."
"That's right folks, get ready for the vocal stylings of this nasal Midwestern gal!" McCarthy said in a statement provided by Amazon. "I am so excited to join the Alexa family. It's been such a fun experience working on this project. I hope you all enjoy all my dad jokes! Fun fact — if you hear a slide whistle, it's my personal one that I brought with me to the recording studio!"
These follow in the footsteps of Samuel L. Jackson's foul-mouthed take on Alexa, which was a big hit with users. At first, Jackson's voice was only 99 cents, but they added five times the F-words and increased the price accordingly.
"Customers have had a lot of fun with the Samuel L. Jackson experience on Alexa, and when customers love something, we look for ways to give them more of it," said Toni Reid, VP of Alexa experience and Echo devices at Amazon. "We're thrilled to add two new celebrity personalities to Alexa and had a great time working with Shaquille O'Neal and Melissa McCarthy on this project. We can't wait to see what customers think."