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Former Papa John's CEO John Schnatter Visits "Mornings With Maria"

Source: Steven Ferdman / Getty

The former founder and CEO of one of the most popular pizza chains in America suggested he’s still bitter over his firing and has had serious difficulty removing an anti-Black racial slur from his everyday lexicon more than three years after he lost his job for using it.

John Schnatter, who was fired from Papa John’s Pizza in July 2018 for using the N-word on a conference call a couple of months prior, recently said during an interview with a right-wing propaganda news outlet that it’s taken him nearly two years to keep the hateful epithet from his consciousness.

He didn’t say if he was successful or not, though.

Appearing on the One America News Network (OAN), Schnatter was asked how he felt about headlines around the time he was fired.

Even though he used the word, Schnatter said he “couldn’t understand” the backlash and insisted he is not a racist.

“I used to lay in bed thinking, ‘how did they do this?’” Schnatter said, blaming the Papa John’s board instead of taking responsibility for what was clearly his own fault.

Schnatter then said he’s “had three goals for the last 20 months: to get rid of this N-word in my vocabulary and dictionary and everything else because it’s just not true, figure out how they did this and get on with my life.”

Watch the uncomfortable exchange below.

OAN host Kara McKinney said the bad press was “smearing” his “good name,” but let’s be clear: Schnatter first drew negative attention to himself and his opinions in 2017 after he condemned national anthem protests in the NFL — which was sponsored by Papa John’s — as unpatriotic symbols that “hurt” his pizza business. That controversy prompted him to step down while still remaining chairman of the board.

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.

Months later, Schnatter was doing a role-play exercise on a conference call intended to prevent him from creating more public relations problems for the company when he said the N-word.

“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.

Following that incident, Schnatter emerged as a hero to white supremacists. The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi and white nationalist website, named Papa John’s as the official pizza of the so-called alt-right movement.

All of the above promoted the Papa John’s board to sever ties with Schnatter, forcing him to resign as chairman of the board.

Schnatter soon offered a hallow apology: “Regardless of the context, I apologize. Simply stated, racism has no place in our society.”

He later said he regretted resigning and even tried to blame Kanye West for his racism by arguing that he pushed back against Papa John’s making the rapper a spokesperson because “he uses the ‘N’ word in his lyrics.”

You can’t make any of this stuff up.


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Ex-Papa John’s CEO Says Its Taken Him Nearly 2 Years ‘To Get Rid Of This N-Word In My Vocabulary’  was originally published on