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Papa Shaq: Pizza Chain Hires O’Neal As New Spokesman

Papa Shaq: Pizza Chain Hires O’Neal As New Spokesman

The pizza chain said Friday that basketball Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal will be its new pitchman, appearing in TV commercials and promoting Papa John's in other ways. O'Neal said he was interested in becoming a franchisee, and as Papa John's was looking to add racial diversity to its corporate board, he became a candidate as a new director, Ritchie said. O'Neal owns a Krispy Kreme Doughnuts franchise in Atlanta, has opened multiple restaurants and is also an investor in the Alliance of American Football, the springtime professional football league.

The move highlights the restaurant chain's attempts to fix its image after its founder, John Schnatter, reportedly used a racial slur on a media training conference call past year. According to CNN Business, he will earn $8.25 million over three years.

Papa John's, which has seen its sales declines for five straight quarters, announced a big move on Friday.

"Shaquille has an excellent entrepreneurial background, including as a restaurant franchise owner, and is a natural creative marketer", said Smith, in a statement. He now owns a Krispy Kreme Doughnuts franchise in Atlanta and previously owned 27 Five Guys Burgers and Fries franchises.




He'll also join the pizza franchise's board of directors and invest in nine Atlanta restaurants. Schnatter is still the Louisville, Kentucky-based company's biggest shareholder.

"Shaq" will be an ambassador for the brand, Papa John's CEO Steve Ritchie said on the CNBC business channel. "This is a triple threat opportunity for me". In addition, O'Neal will enter into a marketing agreement to be an ambassador for the Papa John's brand.

Papa John's will own about 70 per cent of the Atlanta joint venture, with O'Neal holding the rest. The new venture made sense to him, O'Neal said, not just because the company has been in trouble, but because it fit with his public persona of a guy who likes to have fun. "Papa John's is no different, and it struck a chord with me that the company is putting in the work to do better within its walls and in the communities it serves across the country".

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