Papa John’s founder John Schnatter is speaking out over a year after he resigned in July 2018 following backlash over his use of the N-word on a conference call.
In a recent interview with WDRB, Schnatter, 58, claimed that his ouster was “a set-up” and a “farce,” and slammed both the company and the taste of its pizza.
“I’ve had over 40 pizzas in the last 30 days, and it’s not the same pizza,” he said. “It’s not the same product. It just doesn’t taste as good. The way they’re making the pizza is just not fundamental to what makes a Papa John’s pizza.”
Schnatter added: “I feel so negative and pessimistic about the company that I’ve sold a lot of stock.”
As for the call that sparked his resignation, Schantter said in the interview that he “didn’t say anything that was racist.” (Schnatter was reportedly quoting KFC founder Colonel Sanders on the call, but he has not previously denied that he used the N-word.)
The former CEO claimed that insiders at the company used the incident as an opportunity to push him out: “They stole the company, and now they’ve destroyed the company,” Schnatter said.
“They’ve hurt people that wake up every day and make this company great,” he said. “I mean, it’s a miserable place over there … They’re losing all of their good people. The key to this business is good people.”
“The day of reckoning will come,” Schnatter added. “The record will be straight.”
Papa John’s announced the resignation of Schnatter as chairman of the board in July 2018. The former face of the pizza chain had reportedly used the racial slur during a May 2018 call between company executives and a marketing agency called Laundry Service.
On the call, Schnatter was reportedly asked how he would distance himself from racist groups online. “Colonel Sanders called blacks n—s,” Schnatter allegedly said on the call, referring to the KFC founder.
In a statement at the time, Schnatter did not deny the allegations. “News reports attributing the use of inappropriate and hurtful language to me during a media training session regarding race are true,” he said. “Regardless of the context, I apologize. Simply stated, racism has no place in our society.”
In November 2017, Schnatter faced a backlash after he blamed Papa John’s’ sales decline on the NFL national anthem protests while on an annual earnings call — and the May 2018 call was designed as an exercise meant to prevent similar PR nightmares in the future.
He stepped down as CEO of the company in December 2017.
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