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Forbes: Papa John's Founder John Schnatter Used N-Word During Conference Call

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(Forbes/WAVE 3) Papa John's founder and chairman, John Schnatter, is accused of using the n-word on a conference call in May, according to a report from Forbes that cites a source with knowledge.

They report that the alleged call was between Papa John's executives and the marketing agency Laundry Service.

Laundry Service was reportedly asked to help manage Schnatter's 'comeback' after he publicly criticized NFL leadership over the national anthem protests by football players.  He also blamed sluggish pizza sales on NFL players kneeling during the national anthem. The Associated Press reports that his comments drew praise form white supremacists. 

The company apologized, and Schnatter stepped down as CEO.

During the call, Forbes reports that Schnatter was asked how he would distance himself from racist groups online. Forbes reports that in an effort to downplay his 2017 NFL statement, Schnatter allegedly said, "Colonel Sanders called blacks n-----s," and he then said that Sanders never faced public backlash. 

In the call, Forbes reports that Schnatter also talked about his early life in Indiana where he said that people used to drag African American people from their trucks until they died. Forbes said that this remark was apparently used to try and 'convey his antipathy to racism'.

The source speaking to Forbes said that many people on the call found the remarks offensive and Laundry Service owner Casey Wasserman moved to terminate the company's contract with Papa John's.

A representative from Papa John's said he would not comment until after the publication of Forbes article, unless Forbe would send an advanced copy of the story. Forbes declined. 

After the story was published, the company did not deny any of the report but responded, "Papa John’s condemns racism and any insensitive language, no matter the situation or setting. ... We take great pride in the diversity of the Papa John’s family, though diversity and inclusion is an area we will continue to strive to do better."

WAVE 3 reports that Schnatter later released an official statement saying, "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.”

Laundry Service owner Casey Wasserman did not comment.

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