Sarah Whitten and Yen Nee Lee, CNBC, July 11, 2018
Papa John’s founder John Schnatter has resigned as chairman of the board after admitting and apologizing for using the N-word during a May conference call.
Shares of the pizza chain were up more than 5.2 percent in premarket trading Thursday — recovering all of the $96.2 million in market value the company lost after Schnatter’s comments were reported by Forbes the day before.
The conference call in May came to light after Forbes magazine detailed the incident in an article Wednesday. The report, which was later confirmed by Schnatter, said he was on a call with marketing agency Laundry Service when he tried to downplay comments he made about the National Football League last fall by saying, “Colonel Sanders called blacks n—–s” and never faced any public backlash at KFC.
According to Forbes, Schnatter added that people used to drag African-Americans from trucks until they died. Although his comment was apparently intended to convey his distaste for racism, Forbes said multiple people on the call were offended. The call was part of media training for Schnatter to prevent future public relations fumbles.
His departure as chairman comes just seven months after he abruptly exited the C-suite. Schnatter faced backlash in November for critical statements he made about the NFL that ultimately caused the league to remove the pizza chain as an official sponsor.
While Schnatter is no longer the CEO or chairman of Papa John’s, he is still tied with the brand’s image and is featured prominently on the company’s pizza boxes.