Papa John’s announces Shaquille O’Neal as new ambassador

Mae Love
March 22, 2019

Shaquille O'Neal is joining the board of Papa John's, the pizza chain announced today. "I am excited to join the board and to help lead from the top".

The former Los Angeles Laker and Boston Celtic will have to put his experience as a Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and Five Guys Burgers franchise owner into action to clean up some ugly optics, though. Shaq also has a minority ownership stake in the Sacramento Kings NBA franchise.

"Shaquille has an excellent entrepreneurial background, including as a restaurant franchise owner, and is a natural creative marketer", stated Jeff Smith, Chairman of the Papa John's Board of Directors.

The move comes less than one year after Manning reportedly sold his 31 Papa John's stores in the Denver area.

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"According to CNN Business, a regulatory filing shows O'Neal will be paid "$8.25 million over three years for the endorsement deal". Schnatter resigned from the company and also left his position on the board of directors as part of a settlement with Papa John's.

"In addition to his business acumen, Shaquille understands how to build lasting connections with consumers and energize employees", Steve Ritchie, president and CEO of Papa John's, said in a press release. Last month, he was removed from the company's board. Schnatter, who was the face of the company, has apologized for the slur and the company scrubbed his face from the company's logo and advertisements a year ago. The fifth-highest-scoring player in National Basketball Association history also was recruited as the official face - or "ambassador" - of the struggling pizza giant.

A followup investigative report from Forbes in 2018 alleged more misconduct, accusing Schnatter of fostering a "bro" culture at Papa John's, where women were often the target of sexual harassment. Schnatter stepped down as chairman of the Papa John's board last summer but still holds approximately 30 percent of the company's shares and has been feuding with the chain over control.

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