LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BUSINESS WIRE) — Papa John’s International Inc. announced Friday that NBA Hall of Famer and restaurateur Shaquille O’Neal will be joining Papa John’s as a member of the company’s board of directors and as an investor in nine Papa John’s restaurants in the Atlanta area. In addition, 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, 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, and Shaquille’s, a fine dining restaurant in Los Angeles. He is also a minority owner of the Sacramento Kings NBA franchise. As a partner, endorser and spokesperson, 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.”
Steve Ritchie, president and CEO of Papa John’s, said, “In addition to his business acumen, Shaquille understands how to build lasting connections with consumers and energize employees. I look forward to working with him as a board member and brand partner to advance the many initiatives we are pursuing across the organization to create even greater success for Papa John’s and our stakeholders.”
“I have truly enjoyed the high-quality Papa John’s product for years and am excited to be able to help Papa John’s raise their game to new heights,” said O’Neal. “This is a triple threat opportunity for me. I am excited to join the board and to help lead from the top, while also investing in nine stores in my home town of Atlanta and being an ambassador for the brand. I look forward to working with my colleagues on the board and using my experience in business and community to build on the progress being made at Papa John’s. Papa John’s is building a better culture, and I want to be a part of improving the company from the inside out.”
Including O’Neal, six new directors have been added to the company’s board of directors in 2019. This includes four new independent directors, Jeff Smith, CEO of Starboard Value who also is Papa John’s new independent chairman, Michael Dubin, CEO and founder of Dollar Shave Club, Jocelyn Mangan, CEO and founder of Him For Her and a former executive at Snagajob and OpenTable, and Anthony Sanfilippo, former chairman and CEO of Pinnacle Entertainment, as well as Steve Ritchie, president and CEO of Papa John’s.