Shaq Partners With Papa John's to Lighten the Load for College Students

·3 min read

The NBA Hall-of-Famer has investments in nine of the pizza franchise locations in Atlanta.

We've said it once, and we'll say it again—we love the wholesome things Shaquille O'Neal attaches himself to!

In addition to gifting random kids with cash or big-ticket items he spots them eyeing while out and about, buying homes for families, and picking up the bill for engagement rings (you know, no big deal), he is now taking his talents to Papa John's to help students make their higher education dreams a reality.

With the cost of college being less-than-attainable for many people in today's economy—especially post-pandemic—the big man himself is partnering with the pizza chain to help lighten the load for students.

Papa Johns Dough & Degrees program seeks to help university students with the financial burdens associated with obtaining a degree by offering free and reduced tuition. "From doing our part to reduce student loan debt, to providing a safe, virtual learning environment, and making an investment in our team members, Dough & Degrees is designed to meet you where you’re at in your learning journey," a statement reads on the company's website.

Shaq came aboard to help sell the program to current and potential employees. "I've always said that education is a part of my success story, and I want it to be a part of yours, too," the former pro-baller said in a promo video posted to Facebook. "Now's the time to start following your diploma dreams," he said.

The famed basketball player has been long-associated with the franchise, investing in nine Atlanta-area locations over the past several years. In addition to having ownership stake in the pizza restaurants, he is also a member of the company's board of directors and has a new endorsement deal with the brand.

The TNT host recognizes the impact this program can have in the lives of young people due to his ability to relate to the situation, telling Newsy it would have been "d**n near impossible" for him to go to college had he not attended on an academic scholarship.

"It's easy for a guy like me to be an owner," he admitted, adding, "But for regular people, you have to start from the bottom." Expounding on the ownership process, he explained, "A lot of times when you go into these places, they look at your educational background," making a convincing case for allowing their employees to "continue their education at no cost."

As the celebrity face of the Dough & Degrees program, the four-time NBA champ's impact will hopefully attract a demographic that can benefit from the advantage of having little to no student loan debt looming overhead post-graduation.

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