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NEWS REAL

• NBA All-Star James Harden has joined the ownership group of the Houston Dynamo. According to the MLS club, the 2018 NBA MVP with the Houston Rockets becomes the fifth member of an ownership group led by Gabriel Brener, which also includes boxing icon Oscar De La Hoya, Ben Guill and Jake Silverstein.

In addition to the Dynamo, the group also owns the NWSL's Houston Dash and BBVA Stadium, the home venue for both clubs.

“I’m very excited about the opportunity to join the ownership group of the Houston Dynamo and Houston Dash and proud to be a part of a club with tremendous history and a great future,” Harden said via the team.

• Spend a "Day in the Life Of Blake Griffin." Full story here.

• Cavs Legion Gaming Club, the NBA 2K League affiliate of the Cleveland Cavaliers, has unveiled plans for an eSports center in Cleveland’s Battery Park neighborhood. The 2,700 square foot venue is scheduled to open this fall,

• The NFL Network is planning 129 hours of “Inside Training Camp Live” coverage July 22-Aug. 7 Additional coverage will appear across NFL media platforms including NFL.com, NFL Films, NFL app and NFL RedZone.

ESPN also said it would provide comprehensive coverage of the opening week of the 2019 NFL training camps beginning July 22 on daily editions of SportsCenter and NFL Live.

• NBC’s Golf Channel unveiled details for its next Golf Films project, “Tiger Woods: Chasing History,” to premiere July 22  The film will present viewers with a chronological look at the “sights and sounds from each of Woods’ 81 professional victories, from his first at the Las Vegas Invitational in 1996, through the most recent win at the Masters earlier this year.”

• Pete Frates and Pat Quinn, co-founders of ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, have launched with The ALS Assn. the 5th anniversary of “Challenge Me” with a “new call to action to reignite the passion and generosity of the millions of people who dumped ice water on their heads in the summer of 2014.”

POLL POSITION

AT&T WNBA All-Star 2019 Starter Pool

  • Liz Cambage, Aces
  • Elena Delle Donne, Mystics
  • Chelsea Gray, Sparks
  • Brittney Griner, Mercury
  • Natasha Howard, Storm
  • Jonquel Jones, Sun
  • Jewell Loyd, Storm
  • Kayla McBride, Aces
  • Kia Nurse, Liberty
  • A‘ja Wilson, Aces

AT&T WNBA All-Star 2019, featuring Team Delle Donne vs. Team Wilson, is scheduled for July 27 in the Mandalay Bay Events Center, Las Vegas (ABC 3:30 PM ET).

KEEPING SCORE

The Top 25 MiLB Teams With Best-Selling Merchandise (alphabetically, with MLB affiliate):

  • Albuquerque Isotopes (Rockies)
  • Charleston RiverDogs (Yankees)
  • Charlotte Knights (White Sox)
  • Columbia Fireflies (Mets)
  • Columbus Clippers (Indians)
  • Corpus Christi Hooks (Astros)
  • Durham Bulls (Rays)
  • El Paso Chihuahuas (Padres)
  • Fort Wayne TinCaps (Padres)
  • Gwinnett Stripers (Braves)
  • Hartford Yard Goats (Rockies)
  • Indianapolis Indians (Pirates)
  • Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp (Marlins)
  • Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Phillies)
  • Nashville Sounds (Rangers)
  • Pawtucket Red Sox (Red Sox)
  • Portland Sea Dogs (Red Sox)
  • Richmond Flying Squirrels (Giants)
  • Rochester Red Wings (Twins)
  • Sacramento River Cats (Giants)
  • Salt Lake Bees (Angels)
  • San Antonio Missions (Brewers)
  • Tacoma Rainiers (Mariners)
  • Toledo Mud Hens (Tigers)
  • Trenton Thunder (Yankees)

SOURCE: MiLB

BUY SELL

Weekend Box Office July 12-14
1. Spider-Man:Far From Home $45.3M
2. Toy Story 4 $20.7M
3. Crawl $12M
4. Stuber $8M
5. Yesterday $6.8M
6. Aladdin $5.9M
7. Annabelle Comes Home $5.6M
8. Midsommar $3.4M
9. Secret Life of Pets 2 $3.1M
10. MIB International $2.2M
Source: Box Office Mojo

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COLLEGE

BodyArmor Into NCAA
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Cancer Drives Home
Men's Hoops Are 'Toxic'

Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/johnfkenn121400.html#46Ul8rBF4XpB4lo0.99
Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/johnfkenn121400.html#JZxA5jXY4rCwemgZ.99
Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/johnfkenn121400.html#JZxA5jXY4rCwemgZ.99
Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/johnfkenn121400.html#46Ul8rBF4XpB4lo0.99
Channel Chasers

NFL UK 2019
• Oct. 6 Chicago Bears v Oakland Raiders Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
• Oct. 13 Carolina Panthers v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
• Oct. 27  Cincinnati Bengals v Los Angeles Rams Wembley Stadium
• Nov. 3 Houston Texans v Jacksonville Jaguars Wembley Stadium

NFL Mexico 2019
• Nov. 18 Kansas City  Chiefs v Los Angeles Chargers Mexico City Estadio Azteca (ESPN Monday Night Football).

Sunday
Mar242019

Shaq’s Your Papa: Will ‘Shaq-eroni’ O’Neal Investment Help Papa John’s Brand?

By Barry Janoff

March 23, 2019: Embattled pizza chain Papa John’s needs some good news, and this might be it.

Shaquille O’Neal, NBA Hall of Famer, Turner Sports hoops analyst and businessman, has joined the company as an investor, member of the board of directors and will enter into a marketing agreement to be an ambassador for the Papa John’s brand.

O’Neal, who said he approached the company about forging a deal, said he would be an investor in nine franchises in the Atlanta area.

O’Neal will have a three-year endorsement deal valued at $8.25 million, paid half in cash and half in Papa John's stock, according to CNBC

“I have truly enjoyed the high-quality of 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 via the company.

“This is a triple threat opportunity for me. I am excited to join the board and to help lead from the top, while also investing in nine stores in my home town of Atlanta and being an ambassador for the brand."

O’Neal doesn’t have to work too hard to reach a mass audience. He has more than six million followers on Facebook, 11.1 million on Instagram, more than 14.7 million on Twitter.

Papa John’s has had a challenging time since November 2017.

At the time an official NFL partner, Papa John’s company founder and then-CEO John Schnatter said during a media conference call that NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem before games led to lower NFL TV ratings, which in turn contributed to Papa John’s suffering lower sales and having to predict a lower profit forecast. Its stock dropped 11% in Q3 2017.

“The NFL has hurt us by not resolving the current debacle to the players’ and owners’ satisfaction,” Schnatter said during the conference call. “The NFL has hurt Papa John’s shareholders . . . This should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago.”

The actual correlation between players kneeling and Papa John’s finances was never shown.

In December 2017, the company promoted Steve Ritchie from president and COO to CEO, effective Jan. 1, replacing Schnatter, who become chairman.

In February 2018, Papa John’s and the NFL ended their official alliance, with the league quickly signing Pizza Hut to fill the category.

In May 2018, Schnatter used racially offensive language during a conference call. He resigned as chairman in July 2018 but remained a member of the board.

Earlier this month, following a legal and financial battle between Papa John’s and Schnatter, Schnatter resigned from the board.

"As I think about all of the stuff that went on, I worry about the 800 franchisees who did nothing wrong,” O’Neal told CNBC.

O’Neal is not alone in the NBA-pizza category. LeBron James is an investor in pizza chain Blaze.

Pizza Hut is the No. 4 pizza chain in the U.S. in terms of gross sales (nearly $3.7 billion), behind Domino’s ($12.3 billion), Pizza Hut ($12 billion) and Little Caesars ($4 billion).

According to Jeff Smith, chairman of the Papa John’s board of directors, “Shaquille has an excellent entrepreneurial background, including as a restaurant franchise owner, and is a natural creative marketer.

“Shaquille has demonstrated great success through understanding the customer value proposition with product and brand differentiation. The board and I are excited to work with Shaquille and look forward to the terrific possibilities to strengthen our position together.”

Included on his business portfolio, O'Neal currently owns a Krispy Kreme Doughnuts franchise in Atlanta; is the founder and owner of Big Chicken, a fast-casual fried chicken restaurant in Las Vegas, and Shaquille’s, a fine dining restaurant in Los Angeles; is a minority owner of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings; and is a commentator and analyst for Turner Sports’ coverage of the NBA.

His endorsement deals include Carnival Cruise Line, Gold Bond, Icy Hot, National General Insurance and Ring home security, the latter of which he invested in when the company was in start-up mode.

The company was acquired for $1 billion by Amazon last March.

“One key component of my success is only investing in companies and products that I believe in — I’m a big fan of Papa John’s,” Shaq wrote in a post on the company’s Web site.

“I love that they are committed to making pizza with high-quality ingredients – something I got to see firsthand when I met CEO Steve Ritchie and made my own pizza called the 'Shaq-eroni' earlier this year as part of the Shaq’s Fun House Event in Atlanta.

"Beyond the taste, Steve was able to help me understand what truly makes the Papa John’s family so special — great people, fresh ingredients and the vision for the brand going forward. Steve sounded like a player preparing for a big game — his passion for the company and its people is authentic and exciting.”

NFL, Papa John’s Slice, Dice Alliance, New Category Partner Ready To Take Order

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