Papa John’s founder claims media agency conspired to extort $6 million over n-word use

John Schnatter
Papa John’s founder and CEO John Schnatter attends the Indy 500 on May 23, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)


After Papa John’s founder John Schnatter resigned from the company last week after a story surfaced saying he used the n-word on a conference call, he is not going down without a fight.

The disgraced CEO is now blaming a media agency and a magazine for conspiring to ruin him, the HuffPost reports.

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According to Forbes, Schnatter was on a conference call which included the pizza chain’s executives and a marketing agency called Laundry Services and centered on preventing potential PR blunders like the one Papa John’s faced after Schnatter blamed the NFL for slowed sales amid the Take a Knee protests last year.

Sources say Schnatter used the n-word during the call in May while responding to a question about how he plans to distance himself from racist groups online.

“Colonel Sanders called blacks n—–s,” Schnatter allegedly said.

He reportedly made additional comments about his life in Indiana, where, he claimed people used to drag Black folks from trucks until they died. Forbes reports that Laundry Service owner, Casey Wasserman terminated the company’s contract with Papa John’s after learning about the remarks.

Schnatter has fired back and said Laundry Service tried to extort $6 million from the pizza company to withhold that n-word info that ultimately got him canned.

“They tried to extort us and we held firm and they took what I said and ran to Forbes,” Schnatter told Louisville station WLKY. “Forbes printed it and it went viral.”

“It’s ironic. The very thing we were trying to avoid was the very thing that happened,” he said.

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Papa John’s new CEO Steve Ritchie, and the company issued a press release on Sunday night saying it has “specifically requested that Mr. Schnatter cease all media appearances, and not make any further statements to the media regarding the company, its business or employees.”

Ritchie posted an open letter on the company website after the incident promising an “audit all of our existing processes, policies and systems related to diversity and inclusion, supplier engagement and Papa John’s culture.”