Ex- Papa John’s CEO: I’ve been working to ‘get rid of N-word in my vocabulary’ for 20 months

John Schnatter says when he saw the headlines back in 2018, he was in a state of shock and couldn’t understand it.

The founder and former chairman of Papa John’s says he is working to remove the N-word from his vocabulary.

John Schnatter spoke with OAN on Monday and said he is committed to no longer saying the word after being ousted for saying it back in 2018.

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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)

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“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 says when he saw the headlines back in 2018, he was in a state of shock and couldn’t understand it.

“It’s just unbelievable, I used to lay in bed and wonder how did they do this,” said the former chairman in regards to the company’s board.

Back in 2018, as reported by theGrio, Schnatter resigned from the pizza company and blamed the media for conspiring against him.

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.

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Sources said Schnatter used the n-word during a call while responding to a question about how he planned 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 reported that Laundry Service owner Casey Wasserman terminated the company’s contract with Papa John’s after learning about the remarks.

Schnatter 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.

Today entrepreneur and basketball star Shaquille O’Neal can be seen staring in Papa John’s commercials. As reported by theGrio, the superstar is now a partner with the brand and signed on as a board member.

 “We are thrilled to partner with Shaquille and welcome him to the Papa John’s Board,” said Jeff Smith, Chairman of the Papa John’s Board of Directors. “Shaquille has an excellent entrepreneurial background, including as a restaurant franchise owner, and is a natural creative marketer.”

Papa John’s former CEO, Steve Ritchie, echoed those sentiments. “In addition to his business acumen, Shaquille understands how to build lasting connections with consumers and energize employees,” he said.  “I look forward to working with him as a board member and brand partner to advance the many initiatives we are pursuing across the organization to create even greater success for Papa John’s and our stakeholders.”

Additional reporting by Kia Morgan-Smith

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