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Papa John's Founder Resigns After Using The N-Word During Conference Call

The call was reportedly arranged so that Schnatter could learn how to avoid future scandals.

By Sharon Lynn Pruitt

After admitting to using the N-word during a conference call earlier this year, Papa John’s founder John Schnatter has resigned as chairman of the company.

The pizza chain announced Schnatter’s resignation in a press release on Thursday. The company will be appointing a new chairman in the coming weeks, the release stated.

Schnatter, 56, used the slur during a conference call in May between Papa John’s executives and a marketing agency, according to a report from Forbes. Schnatter stepped down as CEO of the company last year, amid backlash over his comments concerning NFL protests. The May conference call was intended to be a roleplaying exercise that would give Schnatter the opportunity to practice his public relations skills, but when Schnatter was asked how he would distance himself from online hate groups, he responded by downplaying his original statements and using a racial slur, Forbes reports.

“Colonel Sanders called blacks n***ers” Schnatter said, and then complained that Sanders never received any backlash, reports Forbes. A source close to the situation told Forbes that Schnatter then brought up how during his youth in Indiana, people used to drag African-Americans from trucks until they died. The comments were intended to display Schnatter’s aversion toward racism, the anonymous source told Forbes, but were viewed as offensive by multiple people who were a part of the call.

In a statement emailed to the outlet on Wednesday, Schnatter confirmed the incident.

“News reports attributing the use of inappropriate and hurtful language to me during a media training session regarding race are true,” his statement read. “Regardless of the context, I apologize. Simply stated, racism has no place in our society.”

Laundry Service, the marketing agency involved in the call, has since moved to terminate their relationship with the company, according to Forbes.

Repercussions were swift for Schnatter. The company’s shares plummeted on Wednesday by as much as 5.9 percent before rebounding on Thursday and recovering all of the $96.2 million in market value the company lost the day before, according to CNBC.

[Photo: John Schnatter arrives at the 2011 American Music Awards on November 20, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. By JB Lacroix/WireImage, via Getty Images]

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