John Schnatter: 5 Facts About Papa John’s Founder Who Says It Took 20 Months To Stop Saying N-Word

Papa John's founder and ex-CEO John Schnatter is again denying he's racist and claims he's spent 20 months trying to 'get rid of this N-word in my vocabulary.'

John Schnatter
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Image Credit: SplashNews

Three years after being ousted as CEO for using the n-word on a conference call and disparaging NFL players kneeling during the national anthem, Papa John’s founder John Schnatter is sparking controversy again. In an interview with One America News, the far-right and Pro-Trump cable channel, Schnatter, 59, once more denied that he’s racist. Schnatter added that he believes others were conspiring against him to get him removed from Papa John’s.

“They know he’s not a racist,” Schnatter said of himself during his March 8 OAN interview (watch below). “I used to just lay in bed and go, ‘How did they do this?’ And we’ve had three goals for the last twenty months; Get rid of this n-word in my vocabulary and dictionary, and everything else because it’s just not true. Figure out how they did this and get on with my life.” He added that he has “no history of racism,” despite his past actions. Here’s what else you should know about Schnatter:

1. He Resigned As Papa John’s CEO In 2018

Schnatter resigned as Chairman of the Board of Papa John’s after Forbes magazine reported that he used an offensive racial slur during a May 2018 conference call. Specifically, Schnatter said the n-word during role-playing exercise to prevent future public relations snafus. Schnatter released a statement that read “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.”

John Schnatter also heavily criticized the NFL for allowing players to take a knee during National Anthem protests and even blamed them for causing a slump in his pizza sales. The backlash was swift and heavy against his comments, which many took to be racist. He told investors in December 2018 that he was stepping down as CEO from the company he founded in 1984.

2. He Started Papa John’s In The Back Of His Dad’s Bar

Schnatter sold his Chevy Camaro in 1984 to buy pizza-making supplies and began selling them to customers at his father’s Kentucky bar. He built Papa John’s into the third largest takeout and delivery pizza chain in the world that is today worth $3 billion dollars.

3. He Criticized NFL Players For Kneeling During The National Anthem

John infuriated many NFL fans by blaming team owners for allowing players taking a knee as a way of protesting racial injustice, claiming it cost him money and sales. He made comments to investors that “NFL leadership has hurt Papa John’s shareholders” and that the protests “should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago,” referring to Colin Kaepernick, who started the movement while playing for the San Francisco 49ers. After massive backlash, he said “I sincerely apologize to anyone that thought they were divisive.”

4. He Threatened To Raise Pizza Prices If Obamacare Wasn’t Repealed

Schnatter told investors in 2012, “If Obamacare is in fact not repealed, we will find tactics to shallow out any Obamacare costs and core strategies to pass that cost onto consumers in order to protect our shareholders’ best interests.” He claimed that to insure his employees he would need to raise the costs of pizza and deliveries. In turn, many customers vowed to take their business elsewhere or offer to pay the extra 14 cents per pie that he claimed the ACA would cost him.

John Schnatter
John Schnatter arrives at the 2012 Academy of Country Music Awards (SplashNews)

5. He Was A Donald Trump Supporter

Schnatter donated $1000 to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. He was spotted at a campaign rally for Trump in Lexington, Kentucky in November 2019 as the 2020 race kicked off. The longtime Republican was also a top donor to 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, 70, who held fundraisers at John’s $8 million Kentucky mansion modeled after an Italian villa that features a pool, golf course and massive grounds.


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