Shaquille O’Neal is joining Papa John’s board

LOS ANGELES CALIFORNIA- MARCH 09 NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal attends the grand opening of Shaquille's At L.A. Live at LA Live

LOS ANGELES CALIFORNIA- MARCH 09 NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal attends the grand opening of Shaquille's At L.A. Live at LA Live

Papa John's announced Friday that NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal will be joining Papa John's as a member of the company's board of directors and as an investor in nine Papa John's restaurants in the Atlanta, Georgia area.

The four-time National Basketball Association champion will be joining Papa John's Board of Directors and he will be investing in nine Papa John's restaurants in Atlanta.

"According to CNN Business, a regulatory filing shows O'Neal will be paid "$8.25 million over three years for the endorsement deal".

O'Neal is no stranger to food - or the business behind it.

The newest one, O'Neal, said he is excited "to be able to help Papa John's raise their game to new heights".

The problems at Papa John's started in 2017, when Schnatter criticized the NFL's leadership and blamed protests by football players for falling pizza sales. Schnatter is still the Louisville, Kentucky-based company's biggest shareholder.

Papa John's competitor Pizza Hut, owned by Yum Brands Inc, replaced it as sponsor for the National Football League previous year.

"Papa John's is building a better culture, and I want to be a part of improving the [company] from the inside", O'Neal said in a statement. Schnatter stepped down as chairman of the Papa John's board last summer but still holds approximately 30 percent of the company's shares and has been feuding with the chain over control.

O'Neal said in an interview on CNBC Friday that Schnatter's use of the slur hurt the brand with African-American customers. "I look forward to working with him as a board member and brand partner to advance the many initiatives we are pursuing across the organization to create even greater success for Papa John's and our stakeholders". Last month, he was removed from the company's board. He also will enter a marketing agreement to be an ambassador for the brand, according to a release from the company.

Papa John's stock price was up 6% Friday morning to nearly $50 a share, although still down from a high of $87 at the end of 2016.