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Volume 26 No. 65
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Shaq Closes On Investment In Nine Atlanta-Based Papa John's

Shaquille O’Neal has "closed on his investment in nine Atlanta-based Papa John’s restaurants" as part of an endorsement deal he signed with the pizza chain back in March, according to Eric Mandel of the ATLANTA BUSINESS CHRONICLE. Papa John's will pay O'Neal, who also joined the company's BOD in March, $4.125M as part of the endorsement agreement. The deal also "includes more than 87,000 shares of Papa John's stock." In return, the company will have "full access" to O'Neal's services, "including using his name, nicknames, voice, video or film portrayals and certain intellectual property rights." In connection with the agreement, O'Neal "invested approximately $840,000 and receives a 30% ownership stake" in his Atlanta-area Papa John's restaurants (BIZJOURNALS.com, 6/17). In Louisville, Haley Cawthon noted O'Neal is "required to promote Papa John’s products at least once a month on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram." Each social post is "created by Papa John’s, but the posts are subject to approval by O’Neal’s team." O’Neal will also "participate in at least eight 'service days,' which include as many as four production days with Papa John’s creative agency and personal appearances." During each contract year, O’Neal is "required to make himself available for one hour of interview time with media to promote Papa John’s" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 6/17).

MORE INGREDIENTS: FOX BUSINESS' Thomas Barrabi noted O'Neal's endorsement deal with Papa John's is "set to expire" in March '22, though it can be "extended for one year by mutual agreement." The contract also includes "unspecified exclusive rights and early termination clauses." O'Neal's involvement with Papa John's came "shortly after it settled a lengthy dispute" with company Founder John Schnatter (FOXBUSINESS.com, 6/17). USA TODAY's Kelly Tyko notes O'Neal's first remodeled Papa John’s location is "now open on Georgia Tech’s main campus, near the TNT Studios where he films 'Inside the NBA.'" O'Neal said that it is one of nine franchise locations he is "bringing his signature style to -- all will feature his size 22 footprints and SHAQ in the phone numbers." It is part of a "move to remake the company’s image" after the scandal involving Schnatter. O'Neal said that he approached Papa John's CEO Steve Ritchie about "working together after Shaq's Fun House, which Papa John’s sponsored in Atlanta during the Super Bowl this year" (USA TODAY, 6/18).

FUN ON THE WATER: O’Neal this morning is making the media round to promote his partnership with Carnival. NBC’s Jenna Bush Hager noted O’Neal has the title "Chief Fun Officer" and asked, "Is that a role you take pretty seriously?” O’Neal: “I just ensure that people have a lot of fun. I don't think a lot of people realize that there's so much to do on these cruise ships for the family.” O’Neal said he likes “to do all the activities." O'Neal: "I like to play putt-putt, I like to play basketball with some of the passengers.” Hager: “When you play basketball with the passengers, they must be kind of shocked.” O’Neal: “They are” (“Today,” NBC, 6/18). More O’Neal: "One day I had a meeting with Micky (Arison) and I couldn’t believe all the stuff that was on those boats. Forget the business. They got water parks, they got restaurants. It was a beautiful thing and I was like, ‘Micky, a lot of people my age, because I'm still a young guy, they don't know about this. Please let me do something with you.’ ... I just make sure that people, when they come on the boat, they just choose fun” (“First Things First,” FS1, 6/18).