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Can Shaq Really Save the Still-Struggling Papa John’s?

The larger-than-life star teases a new product for the first time since joining the pizza brand.

Shaquille Rashaun O’Neal—what’s not to love? The legendary basketball player and Kazaam star announced this March that he would be the new face of Papa John’s, tweeting, “Time for a pizza party!” After an incredibly rough 2018, and an equally negative first half of 2019, it appeared Papa John’s was looking to lighten the mood a bit. Now, after nearly five months, Shaq has finally shown a product of the viral partnership: The Papadia.

In a hilarious new Twitter video, Shaq pretends to reveal some “secret” information by filming in the Papa John’s board room. “Shh, this is new stuff that Papa John’s coming out with,” he teases. “The board members don’t know I got my phone, about to taste-test some new food that’s not even out yet. Coming soon.”

The only problem with Shaq’s video is that it is hard to get a good look at “The Papadia,” with some Twitter users asking, “Is it a calzone or a pizza folded in half?” 

Still, the $5 Shaquille O’Neal-inspired item seems to be creating some optimistic buzz, which is exactly what Papa John’s needs. With 35 North American restaurants closed in Q1, and a 5.3% same-store decrease in Q2, Papa John’s has committed to a massive, $40 million marketing campaign in order to turn the public perception around.

Of course, celebrity endorsements are nothing new in the fast-food segment, but is Papa John’s relying too heavily on the undeniable charisma of Shaq? Only time will tell.

Image used across media outlets.