Shaquille O'Neal Is The New Face Of Papa John's

NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal attends the grand opening of Shaquille's At L.A. Live

Shaquille O'Neal will appear in Papa John's commercials as the company attempts to fix its image following the dismissal of founder John Schnatter. The founder of Papa John's pizza, John Schnatter, apologized Wednesday for using the N-word on a conference call in May.

O'Neal isn't new to the food business, he now owns a Krispy Kreme Doughnuts franchise in Atlanta and he's the founder and owner of Big Chicken, a fast casual fried chicken restaurant in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Shaquille's, a fine dining restaurant in Los Angeles, California. O'Neal will be paid $8.25 million over three years for the deal.

"This is a triple threat opportunity for me", O'Neal said in a release. O'Neal will also invest in nine Papa John's stores in Atlanta and become an ambassador for the brand in advertisements. Its stock, which has a value of $1.48 billion, is down more than 17 percent over previous year, the site reports. Stevie Ritchie, Papa John's CEO, said the initial talks were to diversify the franchisee brand and then morphed based on his aptitude and skills. "With Shaq on the board, it's a big final step for turning the page for the company".

Papa John's hopes a 7-foot center can help it rebound.

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Papa John's has a new pitchman: Shaquille O'Neal.

"With expertise in restaurants and marketing, Shaq checks all these boxes", Ritchie said. "I look forward to working with him as a board member and brand partner to advance the many initiatives we are pursuing across the organization to create even greater success for Papa John's and our stakeholders". He is also the pizza chain's first African-American director. Papa John's sales have declined for five straight quarters.

The problems at Papa John's started in 2017 when Schnatter criticized the NFL's leadership and blamed protests by football players for falling pizza sales.

O'Neal owns a Krispy Kreme doughnut franchise in Atlanta, as well as Big Chicken, a fast-casual restaurant in Las Vegas, and Shaquille's, a fine-dining restaurant in Los Angeles. Starboard earlier this year unveiled an investment of up to $250 million in Papa John's.

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