Founder of Papa John’s Steps Down as Chairman After He Used N-Word

The founder of pizza chain Papa John’s stepped down as it chairman of the board after apologizing for using a racial slur during a May conference call.

The resignation by John Schnatter has come months after he quit as the company’s CEO following his controversial remarks about the handling of player protests during the national anthem by the National Football League.

On Wednesday, Forbes published an article that detailed the May incident involving the racial slur towards African Americans used by Schnatter while speaking with executives at Papa John and Laundry Service a marketing agency.

In that call, Schnatter attempted to downplay the earlier remarks about the protests in the NFL, led by players who are African American, by allegedly saying that Colonel Sanders had called blacks n******, and did not face any public rebuke.

According to the report by Forbes, Schnatter reflected in the same conversation on his life growing up in Indiana, when he said that people would drag African Americans from trucks until their death.

He had been apparently intending for his remarks to convey antipathy he has to racism, but several individuals on that call found the remarks offensive said one source.

After Casey Wasserman, the owner of Laundry Service, heard about the incident he moved to end his company’s relationship with Papa John’s.

Following the article on Wednesday by Forbes, Schnatter released a prepared statement that acknowledged his use of hurtful and inappropriate language.

The statement said that regardless of the context he apologized and added that racism has no place in society.

In a separate statement released Wednesday, the pizza chain said its board has accepted the resignation of Schnatter and would be appointing another chairman over the coming weeks.

Papa John’s stock fell almost 5% following the news on Wednesday.

CEO Steve Richie, who in January replaced Schnatter, sent a memo to franchisees, operators and team members that acknowledged during the last six months the company needed to look hard in the mirror and to acknowledge focus has been lost on the brand’s core values that built it to where it is today.

Following a shareholders call last November, Schnatter faced harsh criticism for his remarks about how the NFL handled the player protests and said as a sponsor of the NFL and advertiser he was hurt by the protests.

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