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Papa John’s Founder Wonders Why He Can’t Be a Racist Too Without Backlash — Promptly Resigns from Board

Papa Johns Apology

Papa John’s founder and CEO John Schnatter attends a meeting in Louisville, Ky. Schnatter is apologizing after reportedly using a racial slur during a conference call in May 2018. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Papa John’s founder John Schnatter has resigned as chairman of the pizza chain’s board.

The company made the announcement late Wednesday, hours after Schnatter apologized for using a racial slur during a conference call in May. Schnatter, who has appeared in TV ads for the pizza chain, still owns about 30 percent of the company’s shares.

Forbes reported that Schnatter used the N-word during a media training exercise. When asked how he would distance himself from racist groups, Schnatter reportedly complained that Colonel Sanders never faced a backlash for using the word.

In a statement released by Louisville, Kentucky-based Papa John’s, Schnatter said reports attributing use of “inappropriate and hurtful” language to him were true.

“Regardless of the context, I apologize,” the statement says.

The University of Louisville also said Wednesday that Schnatter resigned from its board of trustees, effective immediately.

Schnatter had already stepped down as CEO of Papa John’s last year after blaming slowing sales growth on the outcry surrounding football players kneeling during the national anthem.

As of Thursday morning, Schnatter’s image remained on Papa John’s website. The company had noted in a previous regulatory filing that its business could be harmed if Schnatter’s reputation were negatively impacted.

Papa John’s shares were up 4 percent Thursday morning after the company announced Schnatter’s departure.

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