Shaquille O'Neal to join Papa John's Board of Directors and invest in stores in Atlanta

Papa John's is adding a big new member to its Board of Directors. NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal has been tapped to join the board in addition to becoming a face of the brand, and he's also investing in nine Atlanta stores. O'Neal will be paid $8.25 million over three years for the deal.

O'Neal is no stranger to food -- or the business behind it. He already has some stake in Atlanta with a Krispy Kreme franchise, and he owns a Big Chicken place in Las Vegas. And O'Neal has his own restaurant in Los Angeles' L.A. Live called Shaquille's.

"Shaquille has an excellent entrepreneurial background, including as a restaurant franchise owner, and is a natural creative marketer," said the Papa John's board of directors' chairman Jeff Smith, per CNN.

"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," O'Neal said in a statement, per The Louisville Courier-Journal. "Papa John's is building a better culture, and I want to be a part of improving the Company from the inside out."

O'Neal now becomes one of the faces of the brand in the aftermath of disgraced former CEO John Schnatter's resignation. Schnatter served as an ambassador for the brand until Schnatter criticized the NFL's handling of the player protests during the anthem and, later, was heard using a racial slur on a conference call.

O'Neal provides a solid, instantly recognizable face of the brand. TNT's "Inside the NBA" show starring O'Neal, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and host Ernie Johnson has become ingrained in the NBA world, and O'Neal has been in plenty of advertisements. He also has had a foray into acting in movies, but we don't talk about "Kazaam."

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