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Papa John’s founder resigns after apologizing for N-word use on conference call

Yankees fans called for the baseball franchise to cut ties with the pizza chain on Wednesday.

Papa John's founder John Schnatter apologized Wednesday after

Papa John's founder John Schnatter apologized Wednesday after confirming reports that he used the N-word in a conference call. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Michael Hickey

The founder and former CEO of Papa John’s Pizza resigned as chairman of the company's board Wednesday after apologizing for using a racial slur during a conference call, according to multiple reports.

John Schnatter, co-founder of the pizza chain and a familiar face on television commercials, used the N-word during a May phone call with a marketing firm that was working — ironically — to help him prevent future public stumbles.

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

Forbes reported on Wednesday that Schnatter said “Colonel Sanders called blacks [expletive],” but never faced public backlash.

Forbes also reported that Schnatter talked during the phone call about his early years in Indiana, saying people dragged African Americans from trucks to their death. Staffers from the marketing firm, Laundry Service, were offended and the company cut ties with Papa John’s.

"Papa John’s condemns racism and any insensitive language, no matter the situation or setting," said the chain, which will appoint a new chairman in the coming weeks, on Wednesday. "We take great pride in the diversity of the Papa John’s family, though diversity and inclusion is an area we will continue to strive to do better."

Schnatter faced backlash last year after saying the NFL player protests during the national anthem were hurting pizza sales. Later, he stepped down as CEO of Papa John’s.

Bloomberg News reported that Papa John’s shares had dropped 5.9 percent to $47.80 as of 11:05 a.m. Wednesday.

Some Yankees fans said the Bronx Bombers should drop their affiliation with the pizza chain. Papa John’s has at least three stands in Yankee Stadium.

“There are a million pizza places in nyc. There’s a few chains . . . let’s go with the one not named after the guy who says the n-word on conf calls,” River Avenue Blues, a Yankee fan website, said on Twitter.

Critics also asked owners of Bronx pizza shops to send along information for them to share on Twitter.


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