John Schnatter: Comment out of context, but was wrong

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The University of Louisville is removing Papa John's from its football stadium's name after a report the pizza chain's founder used a racial slur.

Local media reported that individual teams and players have also denounced Schnatter, who stepped down from the board Wednesday evening after it was revealed that he used a racial slur during a meeting in May.

Schnatter stepped down as CEO previous year after blaming slowing sales growth on the outcry surrounding football players kneeling during the national anthem. Several Major League Baseball teams (Marlins, Rays and Orioles) also suspended Thursday promotions centered around the Papa John's brand.

Former UofL athletics director Tom Jurich and John Schnatter posed at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium in 2010. The right to change the name of the stadium reportedly belonged to Schnatter. Moreover, the mayor of Schnatter's hometown, Jeffersonville, Ind., removed Schnatter's name from the city's basketball gymnasium. As of 1:05 p.m. Friday, Papa John's shares are $54.31, up more than 1 percent since the start of the day.

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The Washington Nationals have severed ties with Papa John's days after founder John Schnatter resigned as chairman of the company's board.

With its latest controversy, Papa John's relationships with professional sports have diminished even further. During the conference call, the pizza chain founder observed that Colonel Harlan Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame - who died in 1980 - used the n-word and no one ever came down on him.

These actions include retaining an independent and outside expert to "audit all of our existing processes, policies and systems related to diversity and inclusion, supplier engagement and Papa John's culture". 'Regardless of the context, I apologize, ' the statement said. But Russell Lemken, an assistant professor in the ECU Department of Marketing says Papa Johns will have to change much of their advertising and packaging, which uses Schnatter's picture.

The lack of empathy and action in Ritchie's letter just adds to a perception that the company is tone-deaf in terms of race relations, something that first came to light past year. For the first three months of this year, the chain said a key sales figure fell 5.3 percent in North America.

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