The founder of Papa John’s pizza — the titular “Papa John” Schnatter — has come under fire, again, this time for allegedly using the N-word while on a business conference call.
According to Forbes Magazine, an employee with “knowledge of the situation” told the outlet that the incident happened back in May 2018, when the executive was on a call with the Laundry Services marketing agency.
Schnatter allegedly hired the agency to handle any future public relations problems that were bound to come up, especially since he’s a known conservative with questionable practices towards his employees.
In November 2017, “Papa John” came under fire for getting involved in the debates involving NFL players kneeling for the National Anthem. When he received the public backlash, he then blamed the NFL for the subsequent hit to his pizza sales.
To circumvent these problems, Schnatter sat down with Laundry Service, who asked him what he planned to do to prevent problems like this in the future.
According to the employee who was present during the conference call, Schnatter subsequently launched into a tirade, saying that Colonel Sanders — the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken — used racist words for his employees, and “never faced a public backlash” for his statements.
Schnatter, in particular, used the N-word over and over to illustrate his point.
For what it’s worth, according to Eater, the “real” Colonel Sanders was, in fact, a known womanizer and a segregationist who contributed heavily to Alabama segregationist George C. Wallace’s 1968 bid for the presidency. He’s only been rebranded as a “fun” figure in recent times.
But “Papa John” didn’t stop there.
He then described his childhood in Indiana — while he was growing up, he said, white people used to tie African-Americans to the back of their pickup trucks and “drag them” until they died.
He used vivid language to describe the lynchings in extensive detail, but shrugged off claims that he was, in fact, a racist.
While “Papa John” claimed that his descriptions — and use of the N-word — detailed his non-racist viewpoints, several members of Laundry Service who were on the conference call said they felt “uncomfortable” and “disgusted” by Schnatter’s words. Subsequently, the company decided to terminate their relationship with Papa John’s.
When Forbes reached out to “Papa John” for comment, he demanded to see an advanced copy of the article “for approval,” a demand which Forbes refused. He then released a statement after the article was released, claiming that his company “condemns racism and any insensitive language, no matter the situation or setting,” but did not dispute the validity of any of the statements made therein.