Is John Schnatter racist? Inside Papa John and Pizza Hut controversies as ex-CEO is canceled for using N-word

'I never dreamed that people that I cared about — that I loved, that I made multimillionaires — would do what they did. Shame on them,' Schnatter had said, claiming that the owners had conspired to remove him

                            Is John Schnatter racist? Inside Papa John and Pizza Hut controversies as ex-CEO is canceled for using N-word
John Schnatter attends the Deer Valley Celebrity Skifest (Getty Images)

John Schnatter, the founder of Papa John's, was in deep waters when back in 2018, audio of him saying the n-word had been released. While Schnatter has said that the audio was taken out of context, even though he had said "I never used the word". Now, the former CEO of the large pizza chain, after getting fired for using the slur in a conference call, spoke up about his days past the incident on OAN. Recounting the months since the fiasco. In fact, the ex-CEO said that he's been working for the last 20 months "to get rid of this N-word in my vocabulary."

Many on Twitter didn't think that Schnatter's interview did him any good either, with many mocking the disgraced former CEO for indirectly admitting that slur was part of his vocabulary. “We’ve 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,” said Schnatter. He also revealed that when he was sacked after the incident took place, he was in a "state of shock." 


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Is Schnatter racist?

As per The Wrap, Schnatter said the board was to blame when it comes to the outcome saying that one of his goals was him trying to "figure out how they did this." In his 2019 WDRB interview, Schnatter had said that the owners had conspired to make sure he was removed. “I never dreamed that people that I cared about — that I loved, that I made multimillionaires — would do what they did. Shame on them.” TMZ reported that Schnatter had said that the board had "wrongly portrayed him as a racist," as the former CEO said that he's been up at night since then.

You can watch the OAN interview below.


'How often was Papa John dropping the N-word!!?'

John H. Schnatter, Founder, Chairman & CEO of Papa John's International, Inc. rings the NASDAQ Opening Bell at NASDAQ MarketSite on January 31, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)

It didn't take long for Twitter to write about their opinions on John's OAN interview with many making fun of the fact that John needed 20 months to get rid of a racial slur. "Imagine Papa John meditating in a quiet room for about 6-9 hours each and every day just to remove the N-word from his mind," wrote one user. Another added, "Papa John said he spent the last 20 months tryna get the N-word outta his vocabulary. Shit, is it really that hard???" Yet another asked a popular question that people had for John, "If it takes me 20 months to quit drinking.. then it’s a safe bet that drinking was a big part of my daily life. How often was Papa John dropping the N-word!!?"




As cancel culture goes, the former CEO was dragged on Twitter yet again with many asking for him to be canceled. Considering he doesn't have his job anymore, his one comment may have hurt his reputation even more. "So Papa John decides the best way to tell people he isn't racist, is to do an interview on OAN, and talk about the effort he is putting into removing the N-word from his vocabulary. Cancel culture is meant for guys like this," said one user. Another added sarcastically, "The ex-CEO of Papa John’s wants you to know how “woke” he is because he’s spent the past 20 months “trying to get rid of the N-word from his vocabulary.” And he’s also shocked that anyone would “cancel” him." Some took it to personal business, with one user adding, "a few ass-kickings would probably expedite that process..... also, "papa john" was once really mean to my grandma while she catered for him in pc Count me in on team cancel with this dude."




Past controversies surrounding the Pizza chain and its former CEO

Papa John, both the company and its former CEO have been amid scandals before. While using the N-word is derogatory to say in the least, there have been many other things that Schnatter has said. A 2018 VICE article lists all the "Dumba*s s*it" Schnatter has said, "to sabotage his pizza company." Back in 2015, Papa John's ended up settling $12.6 million out of court with "dozens" of delivery drivers who had said that the restaurant was not reimbursing them their expenses on mileage. As per legal documents, the drivers would get a maximum of $1.50 bonus per delivery, no matter how far the destination was.

John Schnatter attends the DirecTV Super Saturday Night at Pier 40 on February 1, 2014, in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images for DirecTV)

Furthermore, Schnatter has also been in the middle of political concerns - such as in 2012 when he introduced politics into his brand arguing that if he were to give his employees "bare minimum" healthy insurance, the cost of pizzas would increase across the country. He said, "If Obamacare is in fact not repealed, we will find tactics to shallow out any Obamacare costs and core strategies to pass that cost onto consumers in order to protect our shareholder's best interests."

Not to mention in 2017, Schnatter who reportedly made donations to Donald Trump's campaign, took to his autobiography Papa: The Story of Papa John's Pizza to write about business regulations. "[Germany] was profoundly not a land of opportunity. If you believed the wrong thing, the government attacked you. If you became successful, the government took your money. And if you dared go against the whims and will of society's rulers, the government beheaded you," he said. To make matters worse, in 2018, Forbes ended up releasing a cover story that spoke of accusations of sexual harassment in Papa John's offices. In fact, the same day the popular fast-food chain Wendy's also calls off their "potential merger" with the pizza chain.

The Pizza Hut Fiasco

This isn't the first and last fast-food chain Papa John's has had issues with. As per Balance Everday, back in 1997, Pizza Hut had filed a lawsuit against Papa John's after ad's compared ingredients directly to the ones used by their competitors. The lawsuit ended up with litigation that lasted three years, give or take. In 1995, Papa John had hired Trout & Partners that formed the slogan, "Better Ingredients, Better Pizza". While that sounded great at the time, the president of Pizza Hut at the time, David Novak said that the slogan was misleading in the sense that it assumed that Papa John's used better ingredients - with no evidence provided. Pizza Hut ended up filing a federal false advertising suit against Papa John's.

In this photo illustration, a Papa John's pizza is seen on July 11, 2018 in Miami, Florida. The founder of Papa John's pizza, John Schnatter, apologized Wednesday for using the N-word on a conference call in May.

The lawyers for Pizza Hut had said that they have proof that their competitor's ingredients didn't affect the taste of their pizzas. They had, as per the publication, further said that the Papa John's ads "violated federal law because they claimed, without evidence, that customers relied on the "better ingredients, better pizza" slogan on which to base their pizza-buying decision; thus, Papa John's ad campaign was deceptive in their eyes."

The legalities ended with Papa John being asked to stop using the slogan and Pizza Hut was given $467,619 in damages. The article also revealed that Papa John's was asked to pull ads and pay Pizza Hut $12.5 million in damages. Papa John ended up appealing the verdict, which later resulted in the federal appeals court making it a point to note that the juror was not asked if consumers relied on the "better" part of the slogan when they decide what pizza they would spend their money on. Later, in September 2000, the original verdict was overturned by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals not only allowing Papa John's to keep their slogan but they didn't have to pay Pizza Hut a dime.

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