Shaquille O’Neal is the new face of the failing Papa John’s franchise. The NBA star was recruited as their official ambassador and is now their first and only African American board member.
Shaq released a statement saying, “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. 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.”
O’Neal’s appointment comes after the brand suffered disastrous racial and sexual harassment scandals at the hands of John Schnatter, former CEO and founder. The papa stepped down in January of 2018 after a recording of him using the N-word was leaked to Forbes. In the recording Schnatter can also be heard criticizing the NFL and it’s players for the national anthem protests, claiming they were “killing pizza sales”.
Furthermore, it has also been reported that Schnatter fostered a “bro culture” within the company, where women were often subject to sexual harassment. He has had at least two confidential settlements in 1999 and 2009 relating to sexual harassment. Employees were apparently forced to sign corporate non-disparagement agreements, preventing them from going on the record.
After his resignation, Papa John’s spent more than $5 million an image rehab, removing Schnatter’s face from all marketing materials and pizza boxes.