KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Pal’s Sudden Service, the popular restaurant chain that has served the Tri-Cities area for more than 60 years, has announced a partnership deal with Tennessee basketball player and Kingsport-native John Fulkerson.

A graduate of Dobyns-Bennett High School, Fulkerson has been one of the restaurant’s most visible and vocal supporters since he joined the Tennessee’s men’s basketball program in 2016. Fulkerson has often declared his desire to see the chain expand into Knoxville and even ate at the restaurant before the team flew to their first round matchup in the 2019 NCAA Basketball Tournament.

In April, Fulkerson announced he would be taking advantage of the NCAA ruling allowing athletes an extra year of eligibility because of the COVID-19 pandemic and return to Tennessee for the 2021-22 season. He made the announcement in a 3-minute video that included several shots of him wearing a Pal’s T-shirt.

Following the NCAA’s decision to allow student-athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness, ‘Fulky’ was quick to note he was ready to partner with his favorite restaurant.

Founded in 1956 in Kingsport, Pal’s Sudden Service has expanded to 30 locations in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. It became the first restaurant chain to earn the prestigious Baldrige National Quality Award, a U.S. Department of Commerce award for business excellence.

Fulkerson and Pal’s Sudden Service executive Adam Crosby will hold a press conference at 11 a.m. Monday, Aug. 2 regarding the partnership.