Papa John's founder John Schnatter resigns as chairman after racial slur

Papa John's founder John Schnatter resigns as chairman after racial slur

July 11th, 2018 by Tiffany Hsu / New York Times News Service in Breaking News

FILE - In this Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017, file photo, Papa John's founder and CEO John Schnatter attends a meeting in Louisville, Ky.

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

John Schnatter, the founder of Papa John's Pizza, has resigned as chairman of the board of Papa John's International, the company announced late Wednesday, hours after he apologized for using a racial slur in a comment about black people during a conference call in May.

The company said that its independent directors had accepted Mr. Schnatter's resignation and would appoint a new chairman in the coming weeks.

Earlier Wednesday, Mr. Schnatter described his comments during the conference call as "inappropriate and hurtful" in a statement provided by the company.

The apology was prompted by a report in Forbes that described the call, which was with the Laundry Service marketing agency.

"Regardless of the context, I apologize," he said in his statement confirming the report. "Simply stated, racism has no place in our society."

Schnatter also resigned from the board of trustees for the University of Louisville, according to the school. He declined through the company to comment further.

Mr. Schnatter set off an uproar in November by blaming the National Football League — with which Papa John's had a sponsorship deal — for a slump in sales during a conference call with investors. He complained about the league's handling of football players who protested racism and police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem.

The comments were praised by white supremacists, and Papa John's responded by saying it did not want white supremacists or their groups buying its pizzas. Mr. Schnatter, who owns 30 percent of Papa John's stock, stepped down as chief executive in December.

Forbes reported that the call in May was intended to help Mr. Schnatter avoid future public relations blunders involving race.

Shares of Papa John's fell nearly 5 percent on Wednesday, after the Forbes report, bringing the stock's decline since November to about 30 percent.

Casey Wasserman, the chief executive of Wasserman, the talent management company that owns Laundry Service, declined to comment.


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