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World News

12 Jul 2018

Papa John's founder resigns as chairman after using N-word on conference call

Papa John's founder resigns as chairman after using N-word on conference call
CNN:

John Schnatter, the founder and public face of Papa John's pizza, has resigned as the company's chairman after it emerged he used the N-word on a conference call in May.

Papa John's (PZZA) said in a statement late Wednesday it would appoint a new chairman "in the coming weeks."

Schnatter had apologized earlier in the day after Forbes reported that he used the racial slur while participating in a role-playing exercise designed to prevent public relations crises.

In a statement issued through the company, Schnatter said: "News reports attributing the use of inappropriate and hurtful language to me during a media training session regarding race are true. Regardless of the context, I apologize. Simply stated, racism has no place in our society."

According to the account in Forbes, Schnatter was on a call with Laundry Service, a marketing agency, and was asked how he planned to manage future public relations flare-ups.

Schnatter founded Papa John's in 1984. He is the public face of the company and its largest shareholder, controlling 29%, and appears in its ads, including one that rolled out as recently as April.

Papa John's is the third largest pizza chain in the United States by sales, trailing Domino's (DPZ) and Pizza Hut (PZZA). It has stores in dozens of countries around the world, spanning Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

The company's stock closed down 4.8% on Wednesday.

Schnatter caused controversy last year when he said that Papa John's pizza sales were hurt by the NFL's handling of players' kneeling during the National Anthem in protest of racial injustice. He stepped down as CEO two months after the comments.

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