Papa John's Founder John Schnatter Says Board Conspired to Oust Him, Vows 'Day of Reckoning Will Come'

Papa John's founder John Schnatter has launched a scathing attack against the current owners of the pizza company, claiming they conspired to oust him.

Speaking to WDRB, Schnatter alleges the conference call in which he used a racial slur that forced him to resign last year was "fabricated" by others in the company who conspired againt him.

"I never dreamed that people that I cared about, that I loved, that I made multimillionaires, would do what they did," Schnatter said. "Shame on them."

Schnatter admitted to using the n-word during a media training call in May 2018, as well as describing graphic violence against black people. He claimed he used the word as an example while pointing out that KFC owner Colonel Sanders never received backlash for using the n-word.

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Reports of the call arrived months after Schnatter appeared to blame the company's losses at the time on NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem in protest against police brutality towards minorities.

The fallout of the conference call resulted in his image being removed from the pizza boxes and Schnatter eventually stepping away from the company he set up in 1984 last July.

During the interview, Schnatter claims that Steve Ritchie, who became CEO when Schnatter left, chairman Olivia Kirtley and the boards of directors all "used the black community and race" to conspire against him and "steal the company."

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"They stole the company, and now they've destroyed the company," he added.

"Olivia Kirtley and [director] Mark Shapiro should be in jail. It's that bad," Schnatter said. "What they've done is just wrong, and they've hurt a lot of people."

Schnatter also had some additional criticism for Ritchie, who he claims "has never been a CEO."

"He has no pizza experience. He has never been in the pizza category. He doesn't really know quality. Probably most important, he doesn't have a passion for people," Schnatter said.

Schnatter also said that the quality of pizza has gotten worse since he left the company last year, claiming he has tasted more than 40 pizzas in the last 30 days.

"It's not the same product. It just doesn't taste as good," Schnatter said. "The way they're making the pizza is just not fundamental to what makes a Papa John's pizza."

Schnatter made a similar claim about the state of Papa John's pizza in a comment piece for the New York Post last month, describing how they "don't appear to be made the way that I made them" just a few years ago.

"'Better Ingredients. Better Pizza.' isn't just a slogan—it represents our core belief about the quality of our products, starting with the signature ingredients in my original recipes, including fresh-packed proprietary pizza sauce, original fresh dough and garlic butter," he added.

Speaking to WDRB, Schnatter reiterated he believes it was a mistake for Papa John's to force him to quit, but he has no real desire to come back in its current form.

He also promised that the "day of reckoning will come" to those he claims went behind his back.

"The record will be straight," he added.

Papa John's did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Papa John's
Papa John's Pizza Founder John Schnatter arrives at the 2011 American Music Awards held at Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE on November 20, 2011 in Los Angeles, California Frazer Harrison/AMA2011/Getty
Papa John's Founder John Schnatter Says Board Conspired to Oust Him, Vows 'Day of Reckoning Will Come' | U.S.