The fallout continues over John Schnatter’s use of a racial slur on a conference call, as Papa John’s issued a statement late Sunday announcing that the pizza giant is further distancing itself from its founder, who is losing the right to use office space at the company’s headquarters and being asked to stop making media appearances.
Papa John’s had already announced last week that Schnatter resigned as chairman of its board of directors and his image would no longer be used in its marketing, but the newest release detailed additional actions taken by a special committee formed to evaluate all of the company’s relationships with its public face for the past three decades.
The committee has approved and directed the company to terminate Schnatter’s “Founder Agreement,” which had defined his role as its advertising and brand spokesperson. They also moved to terminate a sublease agreement that granted Schnatter the right to use certain office space at the Papa John’s headquarters in Louisville.
Additionally, the company has asked Schnatter to “cease all media appearances” and “not make any further statements to the media regarding the company, its business or employees.”
The request to stop speaking with the media follows two interviews Schnatter conducted with WHAS and WLKY on Friday, in which he made several provocative assertions about the marketing firm that conducted the conference call training where Schnatter made the comments that were first reported by Forbes.
While Schnatter admitting to using the N-word and apologized hours after the story first published, he suggested in these later interviews that the marketing firm goaded him into using the racial slur, and then tried to extort Papa John’s for $6 million by threatening to leak the story to the media.
Schnatter also repeatedly referred to Papa John’s as “we,” saying that he is still a major shareholder and part of the company.
A spokeswoman for Laundry Services, the marketing firm that conducted the training, told Insider Louisville that it had no comment on Schnatter’s latest accusations.
In addition to losing his status within the company he built, Schnatter has also resigned from the University of Louisville board of trustees and had his name pulled from the free enterprise centers he helped found at UofL and the University of Kentucky. The UofL football stadium named after Papa John’s is also changing its name.