LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Former Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter used the N-word on a conference call in May, according to Forbes.
Schnatter, a Hoosier and Ball State alumnus, was on a call with Papa John’s executives and a marketing agency called Laundry Service as a role-playing exercise to prevent more issues with public relations when he allegedly said the N-word. Schnatter stepped down as CEO of Papa John’s last year after he publicly criticized the NFL leadership over protests during the national anthem by football players.
During the conference call, Schnatter downplayed his previous statements, allegedly saying “Colonel Sanders called blacks n—–s,” claiming Sanders never faced public backlash, Forbes reported Wednesday.
Schnatter also discussed his Indiana upbringing in the conference call. He said people in Indiana used to “drag African-Americans from trucks until they died,” Forbes reported. Multiple people on the conference call found his remarks offensive, and the owner of Laundry Service moved to terminate the company’s relationship with Papa John’s.
Laundry Service declined to comment to Forbes, and Papa John’s did not dispute the account in a statement, which read:
“Papa John’s condemns racism and any insensitive language, no matter the situation or setting. … 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 graduated from Ball State University in 1983 and was the university’s commencement speaker in 2015. He founded Papa John’s in 1984.