If you go by John Schnatter’s recent interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, everything but his own, racist words are to blame for him losing his job as Papa John’s chairman.
Schnatter quit the company in 2018 when he used the n-word on a call with an ad agency trying to find a way to make him seem less racist to the public. Previously, he had made controversial comments, calling NFL players kneeling during the national anthem a “debacle” that was hurting his shareholders.
Here’s a list of who he blamed in his interview:
1. The “progressive elite left”
Schnatter weaved a conspiratorial tale about his ouster at Papa John’s to Businessweek.
“As you dig in, you realize that, wow, the roots on this thing are wide, and they’re deep,” he said. “This may go all the way up the food chain to the powers that be in the progressive elite left.”
Schnatter claimed that the left hates him because of his success story, which involves starting his business in a broom closet in Southern Indiana.
“The Papa John’s story totally debunks the left’s ideology,” he said “This is America. You can live the American dream.”
2. Papa John’s insiders
Schnatter believes that there may have been people at Papa John’s organizing against him. In fact, he thinks that they masterminded his call with Laundry Service, the ad agency that he was speaking to when he attributed the use of the n-word to Colonel Sanders… while also saying the n-word himself.
He also believes that someone with Papa John’s may have tipped off the NFL about what he was going to say on the investor call about the protesting players.The NFL, he thinks, contacted the press.
(For reference, Schnatter said, “The NFL has hurt us. And more importantly, by not resolving the current debacle to the players and owners’ satisfaction, NFL leadership has hurt Papa John’s shareholders.”)
Papa John’s did not comment for the Bloomberg article, beyond saying that they’re doing fine without Schnatter.
“Papa John’s positive results over the past two years speak for themselves,” said a spokesperson. “We are proud of the company we have become and the diverse, inclusive and innovative culture we are creating.”
3. The ad agency that recorded him saying the n-word
Schnatter said that he believes that Laundry Service was trying to provoke him. This is the subject of a lawsuit that Schnatter has filed against the company. Laundry declined to comment for the Bloomberg article.
Schnatter claims that the call was supposed to be about ads featuring him. Instead, he said, they started talking to him about how to respond to possible media questions about him being racist.
Schnatter ended up saying, “What bothers me is Colonel Sanders called Blacks ‘[epithet]. “I’m like, I’ve never used that word. Yet we use the word ‘debacle,’ and we get framed in the same genre. It’s crazy.”
4. The Democratic Party
The Democratic Party is also to blame, apparently, because the founder of the company that owns Laundry Service is a contributor. Casey Wasserman, the founder, declined to respond in the Bloomberg article.
Schnatter suspects the NFL because their chief communications strategist at the time was Bill Clinton’s former White House press secretary.
5. The Courier Journal
Schnatter went way back with the blame game, saying that the first time his reputation took a dip was when the Courier Journal reported on a sexual harassment suit from the ‘90s. The suit was eventually settled.
Schnatter did take some personal accountability. He told Bloomberg, “I wish I hadn’t said the word.”
Simmons College of Kentucky President Kevin Cosby also came to Schnatter’s defense, saying “I have tremendous respect for John.”
But, then, later on in the article, Schnatter said he believes what he said during the call was anti-racist.
Read the rest of the Bloomberg article here.
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