Papa John's founder resigns as chairman

Papa John's founder resigns as chairman

John Schnatter has been accused of using a highly offensive racial slur during a May conference call to discuss how to prevent future public relations problems for the founder and chairman of the Papa John's pizza chain. The alleged incident came several months after Schnatter, who is also the face and the chairman of Papa John's, stepped down as the company's CEO due to backlash over his handling of the NFL's protests against police brutality.

In November, Schnatter drew criticism after a call with investors in which he blamed slow sales at the company, which is an NFL advertiser, on the league's "poor" leadership over the anthem demonstrations.

On the call, Schnatter was asked how he would distance himself from online racist groups.

Forbes reported Schnatter questioned why he was being criticized, because "Colonel Sanders called blacks n***ers" and got away with it. He also managed to include his recalling of lynching in his hometown of in, when Black Americans were dragged from trucks to their death.

Although Mr Schnatter's comments were apparently meant to illustrate his opposition to racism, several people on the call said they found his remarks offensive.

"The statements made on our earnings call were describing the factors that impact our business and we sincerely apologize to anyone that thought they were divisive".

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Schnatter confirmed the allegations in a statement Wednesday and apologized for his use of "inappropriate and hurtful language".

The company said Olivia Kirtley would act as lead independent director, and added it would appoint a new chairman in the coming week. The Papa John's founder admitted that the report was accurate earlier Wednesday.

The pizza chain founder used the racial slur in a media training session in May, according to media reports.

Forbes reports that Papa John's shares have declined by 25 percent since Schnatter made his initial remarks positioning his company's profits above the spirit of the National Football League protests, which are, for many black people in this country, a matter of life-or-death.

Casey Wasserman, the chief executive of Wasserman, the talent management company that owns Laundry Service, declined to comment. Papa John's stock is down about 13.5 percent year-to-date.

Schnatter, 56, also resigned from his position on the University of Louisville's board of trustees, effective immediately, according to the school.

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