You just can’t make this up.
In a company conference call this past May, Papa John’s founder John Schnatter threw out the n-word after he was asked by company executives and marketing agency Laundry Services how he would distance himself from racist groups and organizations. The call was arranged to assist Schnatter with avoiding public relations disasters like his blaming protesting NFL players with the decline of the company’s pizza sales.
When presented with the scenario during the call, Schnatter brushed off his NFL comments before referencing another fast-food chain. “Colonel Sanders called blacks n—–s,” Schnatter exclaimed, per Forbes, adding that the restaurant never dealt with any repercussions over those comments.
Forbes also reported that Schnatter talked about racist incidents in his home state, apparently in an effort to show that he isn’t racist:
Schnatter also reflected on his early life in Indiana, where, he said, people used to drag African-Americans from trucks until they died. He apparently intended for the remarks to convey his antipathy to racism, but multiple individuals on the call found them to be offensive, the source said. After learning about the incident, Laundry Service owner Casey Wasserman moved to terminate the company’s contract with Papa John’s.
Schnatter stepped down as CEO of the business he founded back in January following the backlash to his NFL remarks during a November earnings call. In the wake of his blaming NFL players for his company’s poor sales, Papa John’s stock dropped double-digits and he saw his personal wealth drop $70 million.
The Papa John’s founder was not happy with receding from the limelight and was looking to make a public comeback, thus the conversations with marketing firms. Schnatter also pushed out the company’s CMO, who had lobbied to keep Schnatter off the air.