Shaquille O'Neal just became the new face of Papa John’s, which has been embroiled in a PR crisis ever since the ex-CEO stepped down after using the n-word.
According to CNN, Shaq will join Papa John's board of directors and will invest in nine Papa John's stores in Atlanta.
The terms of the endorsement deal state O'Neal will receive $8.25 million over three years and become an ambassador for the brand in advertisements.
"Shaquille has an excellent entrepreneurial background, including as a restaurant franchise owner, and is a natural creative marketer," Jeff Smith, chairman of Papa John's board of directors, told CNN.
The NBA Hall-of-Famer already has experience in the food business with ownership of a Krispy Kreme Doughnuts franchise in Atlanta, a Big Chicken fried chicken joint in Las Vegas, and a restaurant in Los Angeles.
Right now, Papa John’s could use a comeback as sales have been in the tank for several years. The rapid decline in sales was exacerbated in 2017 when founder and then-CEO John Schnatter blamed poor sales on the NFL’s handling of the kneeling protest.
After the NFL parted ways with the pizza company, Schnatter found himself in the hot seat again after he used a racial slur during a conference call in the summer of 2018.
Schnatter resigned from his role as chairman in July.
As Papa John's has distanced itself from Schnatter and works to rebuild its image, Shaq hopes he can be part of the solution.
"Papa John's is building a better culture, and I want to be a part of improving the [company] from the inside," O'Neal said in a statement.
After Papa John's announced the new deal with Shaq, stock rose about 5 percent.
(Photo: Lorenzo Bevilaqua/ABC via Getty Images)