Papa John’s turns to Shaquille O’Neal to help image rebound

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 09: NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal attends the grand opening of Shaquille's At L.A. Live at LA Live on March 09, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Tullberg/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (AP) — Papa John’s has a new pitchman: Shaquille O’Neal.

The chain says basketball Hall of Famer will appear on TV commercials and promote Papa John’s in other ways. 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 Louisville, 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 percent Friday.

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