The retired NBA star will become the first African-American director for the pizza chain. In the role, he will invest in nine locations throughout Atlanta.
O’Neal was also appointed an ambassador of the brand to help with the falling reputation of Papa John’s. In 2018, its founder, John Schnatter, blamed the pizza company’s subpar sales on the NFL and the ongoing national anthem protests. He resigned last July after audio surfaced of him using the N-word during a company conference call in May.
“Shaquille has an excellent entrepreneurial background, including as a restaurant franchise owner and is a natural creative marketer,” said Jeff Smith, chairman of Papa John’s board of directors.
The 15-time NBA All-Star will be paid $8.25 million over three years for the endorsement deal. According to NBC, he owns Big Chicken, a Las Vegas fried chicken restaurant; Shaquille’s, a Los Angeles fine dining eatery; and a Krispy Kreme Doughnuts franchise in Atlanta.
Within the past year, Papa John’s has spent nearly $6 million to remove Schnatter’s likeness from pizza boxes, commercials and other marketing materials. The company’s market value is down 17.2 percent.
Bringing on O’Neal, who is known for his humor, is an attempt at a rebrand. Other members recently added to the Papa John’s board of directors include former chief executive of Pinnacle Entertainment Anthony Sanfilippo; CEO of Dollar Shave Club Michael Dubin; and Jocelyn Mangan, CEO of Him For Her.
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Christina Santi is a news and culture writer for EBONY.com. Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, she considers herself a well-read, not so traditional feminist with a heavy interest in music, fashion and pop culture. Christina currently lives in New York City, where she refers to her Cuban & Jamaican descent often while writing about her experiences as a first-generation Afro-Latinx in America. She also devotes time writing personalized reading material for her tutees and turning ideas into words for streetwear brand, PUER By Noel Bronson.