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Papa John’s Founder Resigns from Board After N-Word Controversy, Issues an Apology

Papa Johns, John Schnatter, N-word

The founder of Papa John’s, John Schnatter, resigned as chairman of the board on Wednesday after apologizing for using the N-word during a conference call in May, multiple outlets reports.

The pizza chain said that it will hire a new chairman in a few weeks and that Olivia Kirtley, who serves as the board’s lead independent director, will take over as a temporary chair of the board until a placement is found, CNBC reports.

On Thursday, shares of Papa John’s spiked 11 percent, and it recovered more than $96.2 million that was lost after his comments were made public. Schnatter still retains a 30 percent stake in the company he founded in 1984, according to CBS News.

Schnatter, who stepped down as the company’s CEO in January, said on a conference call as part of media training, “Colonel Sanders called blacks n**gers.”

“News reports attributing the use of inappropriate and hurtful language to me during a media training session regarding race are true,” Schnatter said Wednesday in a statement. “Regardless of the context, I apologize. Simply stated, racism has no place in our society.”

CNBC reports that Major League Baseball suspended its Papa Slam promotion with the restaurant-chain and that its PR firm, Olson Engage, has ended its relationship with the company.

“We were hired to help their brand, franchisees and employees recover from recent controversies and connect with consumers in new and exciting ways,” Olson Engage told CNBC in a statement. “We had significant recurring differences with their founder regarding the best way to address the controversies and restore and advance the brand’s corporate reputation for the good of their workforce and franchisees.”

Schnatter’s reportedly made the comments as means to downplay remarks he made in last year over the national anthem protests in the NFL.

“The NFL has hurt us by not resolving the current debacle,” he said on an earnings call during in November 2017.


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