Papa John’s founder apologizes for using N-word during conference call

The founder and former CEO of Papa John’s issued an apology on Wednesday for using a racial slur during a conference call in May.

“News reports attributing the use of inappropriate and hurtful language to me during a media training session regarding race are true,” John Schnatter said in a statement reported by CNN.

“Regardless of the context, I apologize. Simply stated, racism has no place in our society.”


Forbes first reported on Wednesday that Schnatter, who has remained the face of Papa John’s after stepping down as CEO in December, had said the N-word in May while taking part in an exercise on handling public relations.

Forbes noted the exercise came as response to the blowback Papa John’s faced after Schattner linked the NFL’s national anthem protests to lower sales for the pizza company.

Schattner had tried to play down the impact his criticism of the league and players had on the company.

“Colonel Sanders called blacks n—–s,” Schnatter reportedly said on the call, referring to the founder of KFC. Schnatter added that the Sanders didn’t face outcry for his statements.

In addition, it was reported that Schnatter had said that when he was growing up in Indiana, people would drag black people from trucks until they died. Schnatter had said that the comments were intended to show his opposition to racism. 

But others on the call told Forbes they were offended by his statements. Forbes notes that Laundry Service, the marketing agency that arranged the call, cut ties with Papa John’s after the exercise.

Earlier on Wednesday, Papa John’s released a statement condemning racism. 

“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.” 

Tags Papa John's Racism

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