NBA Hall of Famer, Shaquille O’Neal has been added to the Papa John’s roster as the newest member of their board of directors. He will be an investor in nine Papa John’s restaurants in the Atlanta, Georgia area. In addition, Mr. O’Neal will enter into a marketing agreement to be an ambassador for the Papa John’s brand.
A four-time NBA champion and television sports analyst on Inside the NBA, Mr. O’Neal has established a strong business track record as an investor, restaurateur and franchise owner. He currently owns a Krispy Kreme Doughnuts franchise in Atlanta and previously owned 27 Five Guys Burgers and Fries franchises.
In addition, he is 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. He is also a minority owner of the Sacramento Kings NBA franchise. As a partner, endorser and spokesperson, Mr. O’Neal has significant experience helping to market and grow leading consumer brands across multiple categories.
“We are thrilled to partner with Shaquille and welcome him to the Papa John’s Board,” said Jeff Smith, Chairman of the Papa John’s Board of Directors. “Shaquille has an excellent entrepreneurial background, including as a restaurant franchise owner, and is a natural creative marketer. Shaquille has demonstrated great success through understanding the customer value proposition with product and brand differentiation. The Board and I are excited to work with Shaquille and look forward to the terrific possibilities to strengthen our position together.”
Papa John’s as a brand took a hit when the founder John H. Schnatter, spoke against NFL players protesting. Since then Papa John’s has made genuine efforts to repair their relations with their African-American consumers. After a voicemail where Shnatter said the N-Word leaked, he stepped down from his active role of CEO.
Papa John’s donated money to the cash strapped HBCU, Bennett College so they could stay open. And now with the addition of Shaq, this is another step in the right direction for where the company should strive for beyond 2019. Shaq never does business if his heart’s not in it.
In his recent profile on HBO Real Sports, the brand of Shaq, will always have the big man involved and not just as a face.