Papa John’s Founder John Schnatter Quits as Chairman After Using Racial Slur

Papa John’s Founder John Schnatter Quits as Chairman After Using Racial Slur


John Schnatter, the founder of Papa John’s Pizza, has resigned as chairman of the board of Papa John’s International, the company announced late Wednesday, hours after he apologized for using a racial slur in a comment about black people during a conference call in May.

The company said that its independent directors had accepted Mr. Schnatter’s resignation and would appoint a new chairman in the coming weeks.

Earlier Wednesday, Mr. Schnatter described his comments during the conference call as “inappropriate and hurtful” in a statement provided by the company.

The apology was prompted by a report in Forbes that described the call, which was with the Laundry Service marketing agency.

“Regardless of the context, I apologize,” he said in his statement confirming the report. “Simply stated, racism has no place in our society.”

Schnatter also resigned from the board of trustees for the University of Louisville, according to the school. He declined through the company to comment further.

Mr. Schnatter set off an uproar in November by blaming the National Football League — with which Papa John’s had a sponsorship deal — for a slump in sales during a conference call with investors. He complained about the league’s handling of football players who protested racism and police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem.

The comments were praised by white supremacists, and Papa John’s responded by saying it did not want white supremacists or their groups buying its pizzas. Mr. Schnatter, who owns 30 percent of Papa John’s stock, stepped down as chief executive in December.

Forbes reported that the call in May was intended to help Mr. Schnatter avoid future public relations blunders involving race.

Shares of Papa John’s fell nearly 5 percent on Wednesday, after the Forbes report, bringing the stock’s decline since November to about 30 percent. But in pre-market trading on Thursday, following news of Mr. Schnatter’s resignation, the shares were about 5 percent higher.

Casey Wasserman, the chief executive of Wasserman, the talent management company that owns Laundry Service, declined to comment.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page B3 of the New York edition with the headline: Apology and Exit at Papa John’s After a Racial Slur. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

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