Basketball legend and NBA commentator Shaquille O’Neal just added nine Papa John’s pizza shops to the list of restaurants he owns around metro Atlanta. The McDonough, Georgia resident and newly-appointed Papa John’s board member owns eight stores in south metro Atlanta and a State Street location on Georgia Tech’s campus, near TNT studios where O’Neal works.
The remodeled midtown Atlanta Papa John’s now sports O’Neal’s size 22 shoe prints at its entrance, his signature along the front of the building, and a phone number bearing his nickname — “470-444-SHAQ.”
In addition to midtown, O’Neal invested in Papa John’s shops in Forest Park, College Park, Riverdale, Morrow, Stockbridge, and McDonough. O’Neal also owns the historic (and 24-hour) Krispy Kreme on Ponce De Leon Avenue in midtown.
O’Neal calls his investment in the Atlanta pizza shops a “natural fit”, as he’s been a big “fan” of Papa John’s since his college basketball days at LSU.
O’Neal recently became a board member for the pizza delivery company, which saw founder John Schnatter resign as chairman last year after the release of a leaked recording of him using a racial slur during a conference call.
The fallout from the recording included Mercedes-Benz Stadium and Braves SunTrust Park suspending offering Papa John’s in July 2018 in order to “reevaluate” their relationships with the pizza chain.
A company spokesperson says O’Neal did not replace Schnatter on the board. However, he is taking over the role as Papa John’s brand ambassador.
Schnatter stepped down last July as the face of the company while still serving as director of the board through April. He agreed not to seek reelection as part of the terms of a March 2019 settlement with Papa John’s International.
990 State Street, NW Atlanta