A week ago, John Schnatter resigned from the company he founded, cardboard pizza conglomerate Papa John’s. Schnatter resigned after several years of saying dumb sh-t about black people, from blaming President Obama for the state of the NFL, to blaming black football players for kneeling during the anthem, all of it to explain Papa John’s decreased sales (Papa John’s was one of the sponsors for the NFL). But that’s not why Schnatter resigned – he resigned because the company hired some crisis managers and PR people who were trying to help Schnatter be less of a racist douchebag. They were doing a conference call with him when he used the n-word and told a story about how he grew up watching lynchings in Ohio.
So, people were appalled. The details of the conference call leaked last week, and within 24 hours, Schnatter resigned from the company. But now he has regrets. He thinks his resignation was a “mistake,” you guys.
It seemed like a reasonable consequence: After using the n-word during a conference call in part about racial sensitivity, John “Papa John” Schnatter was forced to step down as board chair of the pizza chain. But a new report from Julie Jargon at the Wall Street Journal suggests that Schnatter doesn’t think he should have left his job last week.
The Wall Street Journal reviewed a letter to the directors in which Schnatter questioned the board’s request for him to resign. “The board asked me to step down as chairman without apparently doing any investigation. I agreed, though today I believe it was a mistake to do so,” he said. “I will not allow either my good name or the good name of the company I founded and love to be unfairly tainted.”
In his letter, Schnatter admitted to using the n-word. As he put it, he was asked if he was racist, and he said “no,” adding, “I then said something on the order of, Colonel Sanders used the word ‘N,’ (I actually used the word), that I would never use that word, and Papa John’s doesn’t use that word.” (As Barry Petchesky at Deadspin pointed out, it’s not clear why Schnatter is convinced that Colonel Sanders, of KFC fame, used the n-word; there’s no good evidence for it.)
The Papa John’s board, for its part, doesn’t seem convinced. It has now barred Schnatter from using office space at the pizza chain’s corporate headquarters, has told him to no longer make media appearances for Papa John’s, and plans to remove him from the company’s products. But Schnatter is still arguing that his resignation as board chair was “a mistake” and that his “good name” may be “unfairly tainted.”
Imagine being so racist that you’re like “Yes I did use the n-word but the real mistake was resigning for using the n-word!” This is like the #SorryNotSorry version of corporate America too – Papa John’s, as a company, would have been fine with Schnatter’s racism if he just said the n-word to friends and family. The fact that he said it to coworkers on a conference call is what made it “bad.” And no, it wasn’t a mistake to shove him out the door.
Photos courtesy of Getty.