Subway CEO: As Long as Jared Sticks to His Diet, He is Good With Us

A 17-year-old boy looking for a good tasting sub sandwich may not sound out of the ordinary. Except that this teen was Fred DeLuca, and the sandwich he created and sold at his first store catapulted into Subway.

Yes, that Subway.

“I was looking for a way to earn my way through college. I was in a family friend’s backyard and asked him a few questions, and he said ‘You sound interested.’ So with his inspiration and his $1,000 we opened our very first store back in 1965,” DeLuca told

DeLuca turned that $1,000 into a global success story, with over 38,000 stores in 100 countries across the world—making Subway the number-one restaurant franchise on the globe. This week in New York City, DeLuca was on hand to launch the “Build Your Own Virtual Subway Challenge,” a business simulation game.

Participants will virtually manage their own store in a contest that runs through March 2013. The finalists from 100 participating countries will be promoted to the global management team for the brand as high potential talent. The top five winners will win a VIP, all-expenses paid trip to the chain’s world headquarters. They’ll also meet with DeLuca and his senior management team to receive a special training session.

Subway famously has Olympic athletes as its spokespeople. The brand saw firsthand the risk of having celebrities rep your business, when Michael Phelps was caught smoking what appeared to be a bong after his sweep at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

The brand stuck by Phelps, and he appeared in commercials post-scandal.

“The first and foremost requirement for being one of Subway’s famous fans is to be a genuine Subway customer. We pick athletes who are terrific in their field,” DeLuca said.

And let’s not forget about Jared, who lost all of his extra pounds 15 years ago on what he called the “Subway diet,” eating only Subway sandwiches to whittle down his frame. The ubiquitous spokesman does eat other foods today, but as long as he keeps his diet in check, DeLuca said Jared will stay with the brand.

“If Jared stays on his diet, he is good with us,” Deluca said. “If Jared got out of control and gained a bunch of weight, I don’t know that he would be a good spokesperson for us,” he said.