Papa John's founder resigns as chairman over N-word controversy

Evarado Alatorre
Julio 12, 2018

A brief company statement said the board of directors accepted his resignation and that Olivia Kirtley acts as the company's lead independent director. A company e-mail sent by CEO Steve Ritchie that was obtained by the business news outlet noted that "racism has no place at Papa John's".

"Regardless of the context, I apologize", the statement says. It was arranged as an educational role-playing exercise aimed at training Schnatter to avoid future PR blunders. He had already resigned from the UofL Athletic Association board a year ago, following criticism of former athletic director Tom Jurich. He stepped down as CEO two months after the comments.

Forbes reported Wednesday that Schnatter used the racial slur on a call discussing public relations mishaps. He added that Sanders didn't stir public outcry with his racist remarks.

Representatives of the outside marketing firm, Laundry Service, declined to comment on the incident. "We've got to own up and take the hit for our missteps and refocus on the constant pursuit of better that is the DNA of our brand". Papa John's later apologised for the "divisive" comments.

Laundry Service cut ties with Papa John's shortly after.

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

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The pizza stock surged more than 5% in early trading Thursday, erasing some of its heavy losses from Wednesday.

According to Forbes, the call included the pizza chain's executives and a marketing agency called Laundry Services and centered on preventing potential PR blunders like the one Papa John's faced after Schnatter blamed the National Football League for slowed sales amid the Take a Knee protests past year. Schnatter admitted he made the remarks and apologized.

"Our company was built on a foundation of mutual respect and acceptance", the company's apology said.

UofL released a statement late Wednesday afternoon from trustees chairman J. David Grissom, who indicated that Schnatter tendered his resignation from the University of Louisville board of trustees effective immediately.

Anonymous sources also told Forbes that Mr. Schnatter described racism in his hometown and gave explicit examples of violence blacks faced, which offended some people.

John Schnatter (R), founder and chief executive of Papa John's Pizza, arrives at the 2011 American Music Awards in Los Angeles November 20, 2011.

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