Racist John’s? Papa John’s Stock Plummets After Founder Caught Using N Word
Better ingredients, better pizza, more racism?
Outrage erupted on Twitter, Facebook and around the nation as it was discovered that John Schnatter, the founder of Papa John’s, one of America’s top pizza chains, had used the N-word on a conference call in May.
Schnatter admitted that he used the racist word on Wednesday and apologized. Regardless of the context, I apologize,” he wrote in an email to Forbes to address the news.
Forbes reported that Schnatter was on a conference call with marketing agency Laundry Service to discuss how he could avoid making public relations mistakes like the one many believed he made when he blamed NFL players kneeling for slow sales of his product which, at the time, was one of the NFL’s top sponsors.
Schnatter was incredulous that he had to do any public relations training because, as he said, “Colonel Sanders called blacks n—–s,” and did not face the same type of backlash for it. He then talked about how black people used to be lynched, dragged behind cars and murdered.
CEO Steve Ritchie wrote a memo to his staff, franchisees and operators to address the controversy.
“The past six months we’ve had to take a hard look in the mirror and acknowledge that we’ve lost a bit of focus on the core values that this brand was built on and that delivered success for so many years,” Ritchie wrote.
“We’ve got to own up and take the hit for our missteps and refocus on the constant pursuit of better that is the DNA of our brand,” he said.
Before the comments were confirmed, the franchise issued a statement condemning racism to get ahead of the news.
“Papa John’s condemns racism and any insensitive language, no matter the situation or setting,” it read.
“Diversity is an essential ingredient in our pursuit of providing a better product and better service to our customers and to the communities where we operate and live,” it said.
“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,” the statement read.
But the damage control did not work as the company’s stock fell 5.9 percent, taking with it $96.2 million of the company’s market value.