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Ex-Papa John's CEO says it took him 2 years to 'get rid of this n-word in my vocabulary'

Cheryl Teh
·3-min read
Papa John's ex CEO Schnatter
Former Papa John's CEO John Schnatter, who was fired in July 2018 for uttering a racial epithet during a company conference call. WDRB News
  • John Schnatter, former CEO of Papa John's Pizza, said it took him nearly two years to "get rid of this n-word from my vocabulary."

  • Schnatter was fired from the company in July 2018 for using the word in a conference call.

  • Schnatter did not say if his efforts to "get rid" of the epithet from his everyday lexicon had been successful.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

John Schnatter, ex-CEO of Papa John's Pizza, said in a televised interview with the One America News Network that he had been focusing on "three goals for the last 20 months." Among these top goals: "(getting) rid of this n-word in my vocabulary."

Schnatter was fired from the company in July 2018 for using the racial slur during a conference call.

Schnatter did not say if his efforts to rid the racial slur from his "dictionary" had been successful.

During the interview, the former CEO also said that he "couldn't understand" the backlash, in particular media headlines around the time of his firing. He insisted as well that he is not a racist.

"I used to lay in bed thinking, 'how did they do this?'" Schnatter said of Papa John's board of directors, adding that he was trying to "get on with his life".

This is not the first time that Schnatter has been in the news for controversial statements that he has made.

He first became a lightning rod for criticism in 2017, when he condemned the national anthem protests in the NFL for being unpatriotic symbols that "hurt" his business. Papa John's was at the time the "official pizza" of the NFL, and this controversy resulted in Schnatter stepping down as CEO, while remaining chairman of its board.

Months later, Schnatter was asked to get on a conference call to give him some training to prevent him from creating more PR problems for Papa John's, when he uttered the "n-word" on said call.

"Colonel Sanders called blacks n-----s," he said at the time on the call, adding that Sanders had never landed himself in trouble for using said racial epithet.

The incident made Schnatter a hero of the "alt-right" movement but prompted the pizza chain's board of directors to sever ties with him, forcing him to resign as chairman as well.

He later offered an apology, saying that "racism has no place in our society".

In response to reports on his OANN interview, Schnatter told Insider that the "Colonel Sanders" tape in question had been "leaked."

"In internal meetings with my team, we often discuss our top goals. This includes eliminating the false perceptions in the media about my comments on a conference call with my ad firm in May 2018 in which I expressed my complete disdain for racism, following which the firm reversed my meaning when leaking the tape to damage my company's brand," Schnatter said.

"On OANN, I tried to say, 'Get rid of this n-word in [the] vocabulary and dictionary [of the news media], and everything else because it's just not true,' - reflecting my commitment to correct the false and malicious reporting by the news media about the conference call," he added.

Schnatter also brought up an investigative report by former FBI Director Louis Freeh, that he says was conducted to prove that there was nothing racist in his words or actions "and that there has never been in [his] history."

"In fact, I said then, 'I never used the word' on that call, though the media failed to report that crucial qualifier when I was paraphrasing a third party."

Read the original article on Insider