Shaquille O'Neal is at it again: the NBA Hall of Famer-turned-businessman is now a brand ambassador for Papa John's.
He'll also join the pizza franchise's board of directors and invest in nine Atlanta restaurants.
The four-time NBA champion joins a pizza chain that is continuing to rehabilitate its image after ousting its founder, chief executive officer and original brand ambassador, 'Papa' John Schnatter, for racially insensative comments.
O'Neal has game in the franchise sector: he owns a Krispy Kreme Doughnuts frachise in Atlanta, a fried chicken restaurant in Las Vegas and a fine dining restaurant in Los Angeles. His other business dealings include holding a minority stake in the Sacramento Kings of the NBA.
Steve Ritchie, president and chief executive of Papa John’s, said O'Neal "understands how to build lasting connections with consumers and energize employees."
"Shaquille has an excellent entrepreneurial background, including as a restaurant franchise owner, and is a natural creative marketer," he said. "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."
As O'Neal explained in an open letter, he was able to undertsand "what truly makes the Papa John’s family so special" when he met Ritchie and made a "Shaq-eroni" pizza at a charity event earlier this year.
If consumers don't remember the "Diesel" from his playing days, they may well recognize him from his many commercial spots, such as his classic Gold Bond appearance that produced one of the internet's greatest gifs.
<iframe src="https://giphy.com/embed/UO5elnTqo4vSg" width="480" height="439" frameBorder="0" class="giphy-embed" allowFullScreen></iframe><p><a href="https://giphy.com/gifs/shaq-shimmy-UO5elnTqo4vSg">via GIPHY</a></p>
According to a Papa John's spokesperon, the Shaq-eroni has pepperoni, sausage and extra cheese.