REPORT: Papa John’s Founder Allegedly Used N-Word On Conference Call Months After Complaining About NFL Players

It has been a rough couple of months for Papa John’s, to say the least. The issue started when founder John Schnatter suddenly and inexplicably blamed the NFL and kneeling football players for his company’s decline in pizza sales. That was in early November 2017. By December, he would step down as CEO of the company.

By February, the Pizza Chain would end its sponsorship deal with the league entirely and it’s biggest celebrity, Peyton Manning, would go on to sell his stake in the company.

Fast forward to July, and they have an even bigger problem on their hands.

John Schnatter, the founder, chairman, and public face of pizza chain Papa John’s reportedly used the N-word during a conference call back in May, according to Forbes.

“The call was arranged between Papa John’s executives and marketing agency Laundry Service. It was designed as a role-playing exercise for Schnatter in an effort to prevent future public-relations snafus. Schnatter caused an uproar in November 2017 when he waded into the debate over national anthem protests in the NFL and partly blamed the league for slowing sales at Papa John’s.

On the May call, Schnatter was asked how he would distance himself from racist groups online. He responded by downplaying the significance of his NFL statement. “Colonel Sanders called blacks n—–s,” Schnatter allegedly said, before complaining that Sanders never faced public backlash.

Schnatter also reflected on his early life in Indiana, where, he said, people used to drag African-Americans from trucks until they died. He apparently intended for the remarks to convey his antipathy to racism, but multiple individuals on the call found them to be offensive, the source said. After learning about the incident, Laundry Service owner Casey Wasserman moved to terminate the company’s contract with Papa John’s.”

On Wednesday, the company sent a statement that did not dispute any of Forbes‘ reporting:

“Papa John’s condemns racism and any insensitive language, no matter the situation or setting. … We take great pride in the diversity of the Papa John’s family, though diversity and inclusion is an area we will continue to strive to do better.”

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