Papa John’s chairman John Schnatter has resigned after admitting he used the N-word in a role-playing call last May.
The pizza chain released a statement Wednesday night saying that it had accepted Schnatter’s resignation. Papa John’s will appoint a new director soon and Olivia Kirtley will act as the company’s lead independent director in the interim period.
Schnatter made the racial slur during a role-playing call between Papa John’s executives and marketing agency Laundry Service. It was designed as an exercise for Schnatter to prevent a public-relations crisis but clearly backfired.
According to Forbes, Schnatter was asked how he would distance himself from racist groups online and replied: “Colonel Sanders called blacks n—–s,” Schnatter then complained that Sanders never faced public backlash, Forbes said. He also reportedly recalled his early life in Indiana, saying people there used to drag African-Americans from trucks until they died.
“News reports attributing the use of inappropriate and hurtful language to me during a media training session regarding race are true,” Schnatter said in the statement Wednesday. “Regardless of the context, I apologize. Simply stated, racism has no place in our society.”
The University of Louisville also said that Schnatter has resigned from its board of trustees, effective immediately.
The patriarch of the famous pizza chain stepped down as CEO of the company in December after months of turmoil following his criticism of the NFL over player protests, blaming them for low pizza sales.
Papa John’s had been an official sponsor of the NFL and Schnatter was featured in an array of commercials with legendary quarterback Peyton Manning.
The chain and the league have since parted ways.
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