The founder and former CEO of Papa John’s allegedly used a racial slur during a May conference call on how to avoid unflattering public relations incidents, Forbes reported Wednesday.

John Schnatter, the company’s chairman and public face, allegedly used the slur during an exercise on handling public relations for the company after he faced blowback for tying the NFL's national anthem protests to lower sales for Papa John’s, according to the magazine.


Forbes reported that Schnatter used the slur after being asked how he would distance himself from racist groups, and tried to play down the impact of his statement on the anthem protests.

“Colonel Sanders called blacks n-----s,” Schnatter reportedly said on the call, adding the Sanders didn’t face outcry for his statements.

The founder also reportedly said that when he was growing up in Indiana, people would drag black people from trucks until they died.

Schnatter meant the comments to show his opposition to racism, but others on the call found his statements offensive, according to Forbes.

The marketing agency who arranged the call, Laundry Service, cut ties with Papa John’s after the statements, the publication reported.

Papa John’s did not deny the incident in a statement to Forbes.

"Papa John's condemns racism and any insensitive language, no matter the situation or setting,” the statement read. “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."