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Disgraced Papa John’s Founder Regrets Stepping Down After Racist Remark

John Schnatter has accused the pizza chain’s board of failing to investigate the incident

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Papa John’s founder John Schnatter
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Papa John’s founder John Schnatter resigned from his company last week after a recording of the pizza mogul using a racial slur leaked to the media. But Schnatter clearly isn’t ready to step out of the spotlight: He’s now saying it was “a mistake” to step down, and is accusing the company’s board of directors of failing to properly investigate the incident, per the Wall Street Journal.

Schnatter publicly apologized and resigned last Wednesday, just a day after Forbes broke the news of the recording’s existence. Ironically, the businessman’s use of the N-word came during a media training call that was intended to prevent future public relations disasters.

“The board asked me to step down as chairman without apparently doing any investigation,” Schnatter said in a letter to Papa John’s board obtained by the WSJ. “I agreed, though today I believe it was a mistake to do so. I will not allow either my good name or the good name of the company I founded and love to be unfairly tainted.”

In an interview yesterday with CBS affiliate WLKY, Schnatter claimed the media agency that conducted the training call “provoked” him into using the N-word and accused the company of trying to blackmail him for $6 million in order to keep quiet. (The agency, Laundry Service, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)

Prior to his exit, Schnatter had a history of putting Papa John’s in the political crosshairs by making controversial and/or offensive comments: Last fall he blamed the pizza chain’s falling sales on NFL players kneeling in protest during the national anthem. Two months later, he stepped down as CEO and moved into the role of company chairman — and two months after that, the NFL dropped Papa John’s as its official pizza sponsor, swapping it for Pizza Hut.

Papa John’s has quickly distanced itself from its founder following this latest incident. According to a press release issued by the company on Saturday, Schnatter no longer has access to office space at Papa John’s corporate headquarters and he will no longer appear in advertisements for the company. The pizza chain has also asked Schnatter to stop talking to the media about the company, a request that thus far seems to be falling on deaf ears.

Papa John’s Founder Says Resignation Was a Mistake [Wall Street Journal]
Papa John’s Founder Resigns After Racist Rant Leaks [E]