Papa John's Founder Now Calls Resignation a 'Mistake'

Daniel Fowler
July 18, 2018

Last week, Papa John's founder John Schnatter resigned as the chairman of Papa John's worldwide, after a news report published inForbes claimed he used the N-word on a conference call in May.

The letters from Schnatter and his attorney were first reported by The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.

Schnatter resigned as chairman and quit the University of Louisville board of trustees last week after publicly apologizing for using the N-word during a media training with a marketing agency.

In an internal memo obtained by Ad Age, Laundry Service says "disparaging and outrageous comments about Wasserman and Laundry Service" made in the media regarding its relationship with Papa John's are "completely false" and that it will be going on the record with a response.

John Schnatter and his legal team sent letters to the Papa Johns Board of Directors in the wake of Schnatter's resignation from the board. So-and-so used the n-word, and we don't use the n-word, and we're not gonna use the n-word.

Schnatter stepped down as the company's chairman on July 11.

Papa John's founder John Schnatter is pushing back against suggestions he is a racist, claiming that media reports have mischaracterized his use of a slur against black people.

"They wanted $6 million to make it go away", Schnatter said during that WLKY interview.

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Schnatter said the discussion only started when he objected to the agency's suggestion of hiring rapper Kanye West as brand spokesman because West "uses the "N" word in his lyrics". He's also accused the board of not conducting a proper investigation into the incident.

Schnatter's letter detailed what happened in his call with the marketing firm, Laundry Service, and went on to say that he will not allow his "good name or the good name of the company I founded and love to be unfairly tainted".

And he said senior leadership would visit key locations to hold "listening sessions" with employees to enable them to voice concerns.

Laundry Service and Wasserman declined to comment on the email.

In the original announcement, Bendapudi said she'd spoken to Schnatter before announcing the removal of his name from the stadium and business school's Center for Free Enterprise.

"Let me be very clear: I never used the "N"-word in that meeting as a racial epithet, nor would I ever", he added".

During the May call, Schnatter tried to downplay controversial remarks he made last November about how the NFL was handling players protesting during the National Anthem.

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