Shaquille O’Neal Has Joined Papa John’s Board Of Directors

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
Michael Tullberg / Getty Images

Shaquille O’Neal has a new high profile position. Via his Instagram page, the basketball legend revealed on Friday that he joined the board of directors at Papa John’s. In the caption, he added that he would soon be an investor in the pizza brand and will also be one of its ambassadors. Based on his subsequent Instagram post, it seems that he’s excited about the news. In the photo, Shaq is all smiles as he gets ready to give out pizzas at the New York Stock Exchange.

Shaquille O’Neal has been making a name for himself as an investor since his retirement from the NBA. As Yahoo Finance reports, he has invested in pre-IPO Google, Uber, Lyft, and Apple. Papa John’s isn’t his first foray into investments in into the food and beverage industry, either. Yahoo reports that his portfolio also includes ownership of 20 Krispy Kreme outlets and over 150 Five Guys restaurants. He also owns car washes, clubs in Las Vegas, and over 40 24-hour gyms.

In an interview with CNBC, he explained part of the strategy he uses to decide on companies to invest in.

“I never say, ‘If I invest in this, five years down the line, we could sell it for this,'” he said. “Every time I’ve had that model, it’s always been a failure.”

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Shaq’s addition to the pizza chain’s board of directors is more than likely part of their ongoing effort to rehabilitate the company’s image after the scandal that embroiled its founder, John Schattner, last year. As Ad Age reports, the controversy started when Schattner complained that the NFL’s handling of the players’ protests at the games was affecting his pizza sales as the chain was one of the league’s sponsors. The Daily Stormer latched onto the news and openly considered naming Papa John’s the official pizza of their movement. In the aftermath of the debacle, Schattner resigned from his CEO position at the company but stayed on as chairman.

But in July of 2018, news broke that he allegedly used the “n-word” on a company conference call. Schattner admitted that this was true but insisted that it was part of a media training program they were conducting. His explanation did little to stop the accusations of racism that followed on social media. Schattner was later removed from all advertisements and branding for the company after he resigned as chairman last year. He no longer has a seat on the board as of March 5, 2019.