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Papa John's Turns to Shaq

Shaquille O'Neal will replace founder John Schnatter as pitchman after controversy
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 22, 2019 11:31 AM CDT
Shaquille O'Neal arrives at the Grand Opening of Shaquille's at LA Live on Saturday, March 9, 2019, in Los Angeles.   (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP)

(Newser) – Papa John's has a new pitchman: Shaquille O'Neal. The chain says the basketball Hall of Famer will appear on TV commercials and promote Papa John's in other ways, per the AP. He will also join the company's board of directors and invest in nine of its restaurants in the Atlanta area. Papa John's is trying to revive its image after the company's founder and namesake, John Schnatter, was reported to have used a racial slur during a media training session.

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 last year. Schnatter is still the Kentucky-based company's biggest shareholder. Papa John's International Inc. says it will pay O'Neal more than $8 million in cash and company stock for a three-year endorsement deal. Wall Street seems to think it's a winning partnership. Shares of Papa John's soared more than 4% Friday.

(Read more Papa John's stories.)

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