Sport

Papa John's says founder resigns as chairman of the board

Papa John's says founder resigns as chairman of the board

The pizza chain is under scrutiny after founder John Schnatter admitted to and apologized for using the N-word in a May training session, an event that became public Wednesday. "'Colonel Sanders called blacks n--s, ' Schnatter allegedly said, before complaining that Sanders never faced public backlash".

Schnatter caused controversy a year ago when he said that Papa John's pizza sales were hurt by the NFL's handling of players' kneeling during the National Anthem in protest of racial injustice. The call was meant to facilitate public relations strategies to avoid coming off as a racist, which Schnatter desperately needed after his criticism of kneeling National Football League players got him uplifted by white supremacists and booted as the company's CEO.

Schnatter also reportedly recounted his early life in IN, stating that African Americans were dragged behind trucks until they died. Multiple people on the call were offended by these remarks, although the troubling memories were apparently brought up by Schnatter to demonstrate how anti-racist he is.

In a company-released statement, Schnatter acknowledged that he made the "inappropriate and hurtful" remarks, going on to apologize for his actions "regardless of the context". "Simply stated, racism has no place in our society". As of March 12, his stake was worth $622 million, though a recent decline in the company's stock price now values it at $479 million as of the close of trading on Wednesday.

Shares of Papa John's fell almost 5 percent on Wednesday, after the Forbes report, bringing the stock's decline since November to about 30 percent. "No member of the board of trustees condones racism or insensitive language regardless of the setting", said chairperson of the board of trustees, J David Grissom.

Schnatter resigned from the University of Louisville Board of Trustees after the local branch of the NAACP called on him to be removed.




The marketing agency, identified as Laundry Service, later severed its ties with the pizza chain, Forces reported.

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

"I think if you're a shareholder in Papa John's, today's probably a better day now", he added, referring to Schnatter's resignation.

John Schnatter, the founder and former CEO of Papa John's Pizza, already lost the respect of many when he blamed the peaceful NFL National Anthem protests for sinking sales. Schnatter resigned as CEO in January but remained on the board.

Papa John's began operations in 1984 and had more than 5,200 locations globally.

Olson Engage, hired as Papa John's public relations agency of record in February, said Thursday that it has resigned the troubled account.


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