Papa John’s founder brands his firing an ‘unethical crucifixion’ by the ‘upper elite left progressive’ as he tries to clear his name following racial slur controversy
The founder and former CEO of Papa John’s Pizza has slammed his split with the world’s third-largest pizza chain as ‘immoral and evil’.
American billionaire John Schnatter, 59, who founded the chain from his broom cupboard in 1984, resigned as CEO the pizza chain in 2018 after he blamed NFL players kneeling in support for anti-racism for the national anthem on dwindling sales figures.
He then stepped down as board chairman six months later after he was recorded using the N-word while attempting to downplay the remarks during a company conference call.
In a new interview with Bloomberg, Schnatter – who has cashed out over $500 million in stock – said the ‘elite left’ were among those to blame for his dismissal, claiming his story ‘debunks the left’s ideology’ about the American dream and capitalism.
The founder and former CEO of Papa John’s Pizza American billionaire John Schnatter has slammed his split with the world’s third-largest pizza chain as ‘immoral and evil’ (seen in 2017)
Speaking to the publication, he said: ‘It was a crucifixion. It was unethical. It was immoral. It was evil.’
Revealing that he plans to clear his name, claims his demise was a wider scheme, explaining: ‘As you dig in, you realize that, wow, the roots on this thing are wide, and they’re deep,’ he says, crossing the Ohio River and heading into Louisville. ‘This may go all the way up the food chain to the powers that be in the progressive elite left.’
Schnatter, who says the tide started to turn against him when his business became ‘too big’, said: ‘The upper elite progressive left worries about me. The Papa John’s story totally debunks the left’s ideology. This is America. You can live the American dream.’
Schnatter – who has cashed out over $500 million in stock – said the ‘elite left’ were among those to blame for his dismissal, claiming his story ‘debunks the left’s ideology’ about the American dream and capitalism (seen in 2013)
Schnatter has previously accused other members of Papa John’s board of conspiring to force him out of the CEO role, and In January he accused his colleagues of unfairly ‘painted’ him as a racist.
In 2018 Schnatter stepped down after facing criticism for blaming disappointing sales on the NFL’s handling of player protests during the national anthem, when Papa John’s sponsored the league.
Six months later, reports emerged that the founder had used the N-word during a media training call about avoiding PR blunders.
During the call with media agency Laundry Service, Schnatter tried to downplay his NFL remarks, saying ‘Colonel Sanders called blacks n*****s’ as he complained that the KFC founder never faced public backlash.
He resigned as board chairman soon after those reports came out. The pizza chain began removing Schnatter’s image from its logos, pizza boxes and restaurants after the incident made headlines.
Schnatter issued an apology at the time, saying: ‘News reports attributing the use of inappropriate and hurtful language to me during a media training session regarding race are true.
‘Regardless of the context, I apologize. Simply stated, racism has no place in our society,’ he said.
In 2018 Schnatter stepped down after facing criticism for blaming disappointing sales on the NFL’s handling of player protests during the national anthem, when Papa John’s sponsored the league (seen at a game in 2012)
Schnatter founded Papa John’s in 1984 out of a broom closet in his father’s tavern, Mick’s Lounge, in Jeffersonville, Indiana. After the scandals, his image was removed from its logos, pizza boxes and restaurants
Recalling the incident, he later added: ‘It wasn’t a slur. It was a session on strategy and media planning and training and I repeated something that somebody else said and said we’re not going to say that.’ he said during the interview.
‘We don’t use that kind of language and vocabulary. And sure it got taken out of context and sure it got twisted, but that doesn’t matter. I hurt people’s feelings. That’s what matters here. And for that I’m sorry.’
Earlier this year Schnatter also flew to St. Louis, urging Papa John’s to apologize after a former black employee sued the company after he claims to have experienced discrimination and was later fired for filing complaints.
George Mitchell fired a lawsuit against Papa John’s after he recorded audio of a manager he said would go on racist tirades.
After multiple complaints to corporate, Mitchell was the one who was fired, and not the manager. Mitchell then decided to take matters into his own hands and emailed Schnatter.
‘I thought why isn’t the company doing anything about this?’ Schnatter told local media. ‘The tape is dreadful, it’s horrific, and for anybody to have to go through that, it’s just bad.’
Billionaire Schnatter founded Papa John’s in 1984 out of a broom closet in his father’s tavern, Mick’s Lounge, in Jeffersonville, Indiana.
He now owns less than a four percent stake in the company, having began heavily offloading his 9.9 million shares beginning in May 2019.