Believe it or Not: These 5 Celebrities Own Chain Restaurants

We take a look at unexpected celebrities that own franchises of well-known chains.We take a look at unexpected celebrities that own franchises of well-known chains.At this point in the celebrity machine, you can't go two feet without running into some sort of a celebrity endorsement deal. Everyone who's even remotely famous seems to have a clothing line, a perfume, a reality show, or something weird like a car endorsement (remember when J Lo endorsed Fiat?). But when they aren't busy promoting themselves or the latest product to bear their name or likeness, sometimes celebrities and sports stars decide to open a restaurant or buy some locations of a well-known chain. We've already rounded up the best restaurants that are owned by celebrities, and here we'll take a look at some unexpected celebrities that own franchises of well-known chains.

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There are plenty of examples of celebrity-owned restaurants that have failed. See: Nyla by Britney Spears, and Madre's by Jennifer Lopez. Classic cases of opening a demanding business without the required experience, many celebrity-run restaurants are best remembered as the butt of jokes. But instead of going all-in and creating an entirely new restaurant concept, many celebrities who want to dip their toes into the restaurant game actually resort to purchasing franchises of already well-known brands, which come pre-packaged with two of the most important keys to success already built in: a widely known brand name and a pre-determined menu. Everyone from actors to singers to pro-athletes is getting in on the newest way to make a buck in the food game.

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Some of you might be familiar with Rick Ross and his Wingstop obsession. The lyric "She thinking Phillipe's, I'm thinking Wing Stop" even made its way into his jam "MC Hammer." So it shouldn't come as any surprise that he indulged and purchased some franchises of the wing chain. And before reconciling with her now-husband, reality star NeNe Leakes of the Real Housewives of Atlanta was romantically linked to John Kolaj, owner of Famous Famiglia Pizzeria. Insisting Kolaj was just her "business partner," Leakes snapped up a franchise of the pizza chain in California. So if it wasn't true then... it is now. And these two are just the tip of the iceberg.

Venus Williams, Jamba Juice

It's a match made in heaven (no pun intended) for Venus Williams to endorse a super-yummy yet (semi-)healthy chain like Jamba Juice, as the tennis champion is well-known for her commitment to physical education and nutrition in the community. Also, Jamba Juice is awesome, so there's that. Williams currently owns two Jamba Juice franchises in the Washington, D.C. area, with reported plans to add five more over the next five years. Keep the delicious frozen smoothie treats coming, Venus!

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NeNe Leakes, Famous Famiglia Pizzeria


NeNe Leakes of Real Housewives of Atlanta fame is a Southern superstar, ya'll. So she opened a... pizza joint? In California? We don't even know. But true story: she opened a franchise of Famous Famiglia Pizzeria in the Sacramento airport several years ago. Lucky for visitors, it's probably operated by people who know some things about pizza making and Italian food. Sorry, NeNe.

Jamal Mashburn, Outback Steakhouse and Papa John's


Jamal Mashburn, former Dallas Mavericks superstar, reportedly made more than $75 million during his career. Monster Mash, as he is affectionately known by fans, used his huge earnings to purchase more than 70 restaurants at last count. This staggering number includes 38 Outback Steakhouse franchises and 32 Papa John's. Small wonder that this former champion is viewed as one of the best success stories of former-athletes-turned-businessmen after retiring from professional sports.

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Peyton Manning, Papa John's

Peyton Manning is a freaking genius. Seriously. The quarterback signed a deal to purchase 21 Papa John's franchises in the Denver area two weeks before voters in Colorado approved an amendment legalizing recreational pot use in the state. The jock stereotype cannot hold up in the face of business savvy like this.

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Shaquille O'Neal, Auntie Anne's


Apparently, Shaq loves pretzels. In fact, he loves them so much that his O'Neal Franchise Group teamed up with V&J Foods in 2007 to purchase eight franchised locations of Auntie Anne's in Buffalo, N.Y., and a half-dozen more in Michigan with plans for expansion. It looks like he currently owns six locations around Buffalo, and nine in Michigan. According to V&J, Shaq's involvement is minimal in terms of advertising but the door is always open if he's interested. Pretty sure the world is ready for an advertising campaign involving Shaq, a shopping mall, and a cinnamon sugar pretzel drowning in butter. Someone needs to make this happen now.

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-Rosemary Pantaleo, The Daily Meal