The founder of Papa John’s Pizza has quit his company’s chairman seat Wednesday night after apologizing for hurling a racial slur during a sensitivity training call.
John Schnatter resigned from the 33-year-old pizza chain after his profane use of the N-word from May surfaced and the Papa John’s International, Inc., stock spiraled.
“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,” founder John Schnatter said in a statement, hours before he stepped down.
Shares of Papa John’s fell by up to 6 percent in intraday trading, wiping out roughly $96 million in market value.
The stock rebounded slightly at closing, down 4.8 percent.
The company said it would begin its search for a new board chairman.
Schnatter, 56, used the slur during an exercise designed to help him avoid public scandal after he blamed protesting NFL athletes were to blame for dipping profits.
During the conference call, when asked how he would distance himself from racist rhetoric, Schnatter brought up the kneeling debate.
“Colonel Sanders called blacks ‘n——-s,’ “ Schnatter said, according to Forbes. He then complained Sanders was never publicly condemned for his remarks.
Schnatter said in Indiana, where he grew up, people would kill African-Americans by dragging them from their trucks. Members of the conference call took offense to his explanation, the news site reported.
The pizza mogul stepped down as CEO in January after the national anthem scandal.
Papa John’s said in a statement that it “condemns racism and any insensitive language, no matter the situation or setting.”
“Our company was built on a foundation of mutual respect and acceptance,” the statement read. “We take great pride in the diversity of the Papa John’s family, though diversity and inclusion is an area where we will continue to strive to do better.”
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