Papa John’s founder followed racially tinged remarks he made last year about the NFL players’ protest with new racially inflammatory comments.
John Schnatter, chairman of the popular pizza chain, allegedly used the N-word on a conference call in May, Forbes reported on Wednesday.
His remarks came on a call between Papa John’s executives and marketing agency Laundry Service. Ironically, Schnatter was doing a role-play exercise intended to prevent him from creating more public relations problems for the company.
“Colonel Sanders called Blacks n—–s,” Schnatter said, in response to a question about how he would avoid white supremacist groups online. He added that Sanders never got into trouble for using the racial slur.
At another point during the session, Schnatter recalled that during his childhood, white folks in Indiana used trucks to drag Black people to death.
Schnatter also downplayed controversy over his comments in November about the NFL players’ demonstration. During a conference call about the company’s falling profits, Schnatter said the NFL’s failure to resolve the protest harmed Papa John’s revenues. His comments were viewed by many as a rebuke of white team owners failing to control their Black athletes, who were calling attention to police brutality against African-American men.
Following that incident, Schnatter emerged as a hero to white supremacists. The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi and white nationalist cite, named Papa John’s as the official pizza of the so-called alt-right movement.
Several people on the conference call in May were offended by Schnatter’s use of the N-word, which he may have intended to be taken as his dislike for racism, Forbes said. Whatever his intentions, the marketing agency terminated its contract with Papa John’s.