Papa John’s Founder John Schnatter, Who Stepped Down After Racist Remark, Regrets His Decision

John Schnatter attends the 47th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards held at the MGM Grand on April 1, 2012. Byron Purvis/AdMedia Newscom/MEGA

Papa John’s founder John Schnatter is having some regrets, but not about the racial slur he reportedly used during a conference call in May. Instead, the businessman now says he believes he made “a mistake” when he resigned in the aftermath of the incident on Wednesday, July 11, following pressure from the company’s board of directors.

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“The board asked me to step down as chairman without apparently doing any investigation. I agreed, though today I believe it was a mistake to do so,” Schnatter, 56, wrote in a letter to Papa John’s board that was obtained by the Wall Street Journal. “I will not allow either my good name or the good name of the company I founded and love to be unfairly tainted.”

Just prior to his resignation, Forbes reported Schnatter said the N-word during a conference call with his company’s executives and marketing agency Laundry Service back in May. Ironically, the call was about media training in the wake of another controversy involving Schnatter and his criticism of NFL players taking a knee.

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In his missive, which was dated Saturday, July 14, the entrepreneur said he was asked during the conversation whether he is racist, and answered “no.”

“I then said something on the order of, Colonel Sanders used the word ‘N,’ (I actually used the word), that I would never use that word, and Papa John’s doesn’t use that word,” he explained.

Schnatter ended the letter by imploring the board to further investigate the matter that ultimately resulted in him being axed from the pizza company he began in 1984. “I am confident that an examination of the facts will bear out what I have written in this letter and show that once again our company has demonstrated that it does not know how to handle a crisis based on misinformation,” he wrote.

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Despite Schnatter’s efforts, Papa John’s has continued to distance itself from him and stated in a press release from Sunday, July 15, that the pizza chain’s founder no longer has access to office space at Papa John’s corporate headquarters and will no longer appear in advertisements for the company.

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