Papa John's Founder: I'm Not Racist, Resignation Was Mistake
Papa John’s founder John Schnatter, who resigned as chairman of the company’s board shortly after it was revealed that he used a racial slur during a conference call, is now saying that giving up the post was a mistake, according to a letter sent to the board that was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. In the letter, Schnatter also accused the board of failing to investigate the nature of the call and his intention behind the use of the slur, according to the Journal.
Schnatter said in an earlier statement that reports attributing use of “inappropriate and hurtful” language to him were true.
“Regardless of the context, I apologize,” he said in the statement.
Papa John’s announced Schnatter’s resignation last Wednesday. Since then, the company also announced that Schnatter will not appear on the company’s marketing materials. The company also said it would audit all existing processes, policies and systems related to diversity and inclusion.
“Racism and any insensitive language, no matter what the context simply cannot – and will not – be tolerated at any level of our company,” Papa John’s CEO Steve Ritchie said in a statement after Schnatter’s resignation.
Forbes reported that Schnatter used the N-word during a media training exercise. When asked how he would distance himself from racist groups, Schnatter reportedly complained that Colonel Sanders never faced a backlash for using the word. The incident prompted Papa John’s marketing firm to break ties with the company, according to Forbes.
According to the Journal, in his letter to the board, Schnatter said he wasn’t a racist and that while he used the word, he didn’t do so as a racial epithet.
Schnatter also resigned from the the University of Louisville’s Board of Trustees and Papa John’s names from the university’s Cardinal Stadium will be removed before the first football game.
Schnatter had already stepped down as CEO of Papa John’s last year after blaming slowing sales growth on the outcry surrounding football players kneeling during the national anthem. For the first three months of this year, the chain earlier reported that a key sales figure fell 5.3 percent in North America.
Reporting from the Associated Press was used in this news story.
Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
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