Papa John's turns to Shaq to help repair image

6:18 PM ET

ESPN News Services

NEW YORK — Papa John’s is getting “Shaq-ified.”

The pizza chain said Friday that basketball Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal will be its new pitchman, appearing in TV commercials and promoting Papa John’s in other ways. The company hopes O’Neal can repair its image and revive its sales after the company’s founder and namesake, John Schnatter, made racially insensitive remarks.

You know @SHAQ as a Hall of Famer, sports commentator and entrepreneur. Today, we’re adding “Papa John’s board member and investor in Atlanta stores” to his long list of pursuits. His business savvy and passion for our pizza make him a great fit.

— Papa John’s Pizza (@PapaJohns) March 22, 2019

Besides being a spokesman, O’Neal will also join the company’s board of directors and invest in nine of its restaurants in the Atlanta area.

“If you want to enjoy great pizza and feel loved by the people that serve the pizza, you can come back home now,” O’Neal said in an interview with The Associated Press. “The Daddy’ is here.”

The problems at Papa John’s started in 2017, when Schnatter criticized the NFL’s leadership and blamed protests by football

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