Papa John’s Pizza founder John Schnatter has resigned as chairman of the board hours after apologizing for using a racial slur.
The company announced in a press release late Wednesday, July 11, that its independent directors had accepted the 56-year-old entrepreneur’s resignation and will appoint a new chairman “in the coming weeks.”
Forbes reported earlier on Wednesday that Schnatter said the N-word during a conference call with his company’s executives and marketing agency Laundry Service in May. When asked during a training exercise at the time how he would distance himself from racist groups online, he complained that Kentucky Fried Chicken founder Colonel Sanders never faced backlash for using the slur.
Schnatter confirmed the story and issued an apology. “News reports attributing the use of inappropriate and hurtful language to me during a media training session regarding race are true,” he said in a statement to Forbes on Wednesday afternoon. “Regardless of the context, I apologize. Simply stated, racism has no place in our society.”
He also resigned from the University of Louisiana’s board of trustees. “After speaking with John, I’m confident that his comments, while inappropriate, do not reflect his personal beliefs or values,” chairman J. David Grissom said in a statement posted on the school’s Twitter account. “No member of the board of trustees condones racism or insensitive language regardless of the setting. The University of Louisville embraces and celebrates diversity and is a supporter of all its students and stakeholders regardless as to their identity.”
Schnatter previously came under fire in November for blaming Papa John’s Pizza’s low sales on the NFL, with which the franchise had a sponsorship deal. He said the league mishandled players who kneel during the national anthem in protest of police brutality and racial inequality. He stepped down as CEO in December.
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