The founder and face of Papa John's pizza chain, John Schnatter, resigned on Wednesday after he admitted he used the N-word during a conference call concerning the controversial NFL national anthem protests.
Schnatter and Papa John's executives were on a group call with marketing agency Laundry Service. "It was designed as a role-playing exercise for Schnatter in an effort to prevent future public-relations snafus," according to a report from Forbes. The founder received immense backlash in November 2017 for suggesting the protest was tanking the company's sales.
During the call, the marketing group asked how Schnatter planned on distancing himself from racist online groups. "Colonel Sanders called blacks n*****s," he responded, adding that Sanders didn't face backlash from the public.
"Schnatter also reflected on his early life in Indiana, where, he said, people used to drag African-Americans from trucks until they died," says the Forbes report. The comments were "intended" to express Schnatter's "antipathy to racism" but, according to a source familiar with the matter, some on the call were offended by the remarks.
Laundry Service soon terminated its contract with Papa John’s.
"News reports attributing the use of inappropriate and hurtful language to me during a media training session regarding race are true," wrote Schnatter in an email to Forbes. "Regardless of the context, I apologize. Simply stated, racism has no place in our society."
Papa John's has since issued a statement on the matter, condemning racism of all forms.
"Papa John’s condemns racism and any insensitive language, no matter the situation or setting. Our company was built on a foundation of mutual respect and acceptance. One of our core company values is People Are Priority Always (P.A.P.A.) and we are committed to maintaining a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace for all of our corporate and franchise employees," says the statement, according to Fox News.
"Diversity is an essential ingredient in our pursuit of providing a better product and better service to our customers and to the communities where we operate and live. We take great pride in the diversity of the Papa John’s family, though diversity and inclusion is an area where we will continue to strive to do better," the statement continued.
As noted by The Blaze, Papa John’s stocks slid 5.9% soon after Schnatter confirmed the report. "CNBC reported that Papa John’s fell to a 'new 12-month low' as a result, to $47.80 per share, in trading on Wednesday."