Papa John’s founder John Schnatter has seen massive fallout from a racial slur he uttered on a call with the company’s marketing agency.
Now he’s saying that agency tried to blackmail him to bury the story.
“They said you know we’ve got this issue. In fact, they even said if you don’t… they wanted six million dollars to make it go away. I’m like, I’m not paying you six million dollars. And they made it pretty clear that if… the words were ‘if I don’t get my (bleep) money, I’m going to bury the founder’ said one of the executives. So I’m not for sale. They can take the six million and whatever, they’re not getting it, so, yeah they tried to extort us and we held firm. They took what I said and they ran to Forbes and Forbes printed it and it went viral,” said Schnatter.
Schnatter says the marketing agency who went to Forbes for the story wanted Papa John’s to add a well-known rapper to its advertising campaign to negate damage from the NFL kneeling controversy, which Schnatter claimed in an earnings conference call last fall had hurt profits.
“It wasn’t a slur. It was a social strategy and media planning and training and I repeated something that somebody else said and said we’re not going to say that, We don’t use that kind of language or vocabulary and sure it got taken out of context and sure it got twisted, but that doesn’t matter. I hurt people’s feelings. That’s what matters here. And for that, I’m sorry and I’m disappointed in myself that something like that could happen,” Schnatter said.
He feels like some of his closest allies have rushed to judgment.
As a result, he resigned his position at Papa John’s and gave up his seat on U of L’s Board of Trustees, which he served on the last two years.
“Leaders at the U of L and the leaders of Papa John’s have been, you know it’s like everybody’s taking care of… as long as they’re covered, it’s not really a big deal. And that’s been disappointing because when we got involved two years ago and made it real clear that we’re going to play this straight, we’re going to play by the rules and put the cards on the table. I’m literally gone for two days and the president’s already playing games with the media already. She never called me and told me the sound was coming down. I got a text. After the interview, I’ll show you the text. She texted me after the fact and said ‘oh, by the way, we took the sign off your stadium.’ So wow, ok,” he said.
University of Louisville’s football team used to play in Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
The school announced Friday it is removing the Papa John’s name and will simply call it Cardinal Stadium.
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