Papa John's chairman resigns for using racial slur in conference call

By Ray Downs  |  July 12, 2018 at 12:37 AM
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July 12 (UPI) -- The founder and chairman of the Papa John's pizza chain has resigned after it was revealed Wednesday he used a racial slur during a conference call in May.

John Schnatter confirmed using the slur in an emailed statement to Forbes, which first published the account of the conference call.

"News reports attributing the use of inappropriate and hurtful language to me during a media training session regarding race are true," Schnatter said. "Regardless of the context, I apologize. Simply stated, racism has no place in our society."

According to the Forbes report, Schnatter was doing a role-playing exercise with Laundry Service, a marketing agency hired to prevent the pizza mogul from making more public relations mistakes. Schnatter hired the agency after he criticized NFL players for kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality. The fallout resulted in Schnatter resigning from his role as CEO in December.

During the call, Schnatter complained that Kentucky Fried Chicken founder Colonel Sanders never received criticism for racist remarks.

"Colonel Sanders called blacks [expletives]," Schnatter said.

He was also accused of making insensitive observations about racism he witnessed growing up in Indiana.

Laundry Service ended its contract with Schnatter after the call.

Schnatter also resigned from the University of Louisville board of trustees, where he'd served for two years, chairman J. David Grissom said.

"After speaking with John, I'm confident that his comments, while inappropriate, do not reflect his personal beliefs or values," Grissom said in a statement.

Papa John's stock had fallen 4.8 percent by market close Wednesday.

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