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Papa John's Founder: I Shouldn't Have Stepped Down

John Schnatter calls it a 'mistake,' explains why he wouldn't work with Kanye West
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 17, 2018 6:03 PM CDT
Papa John's founder John Schnatter unveils pepperoni as the fan voted "Most Valuable Pizza" on the NASDAQ video tower in Times Square during Super Bowl week on Friday, Jan. 31, 2014, in New York.   (Photo by Jack Dempsey for Papa John's via AP Images)

(Newser) – John Schnatter is having second thoughts about resigning from the company he created. The Papa John's founder, who stepped down as chairman of the company's board of directors last week after admitting he had used the n-word on a conference call, said in a letter to the directors dated Saturday that he shouldn't have done so, the Wall Street Journal and CNBC report. "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. I have checked with corporate governance experts who tell me that this was not a proper action by the Board," the letter reads. "I will not allow either my good name or the good name of the company I founded and love to be unfairly tainted." He claims the media consulting firm that was on the conference call attempted to blackmail the company for $6 million to keep quiet about his use of the n-word.

The letter also addressed the incident, which took place during a media training after his controversial comments last year blaming declining pizza sales on the NFL's national anthem kneeling protests. He said that during the training, he was asked whether he is racist, and he said he is not. "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. Let me be very clear: I never used the 'N' word in that meeting as a racial epithet, nor would I ever," he wrote. He also added that the firm suggested using Kanye West as a spokesperson but he refused because the rapper "uses the 'N' word in his lyrics." Sources say Schnatter sent the letter after being informed the board wanted to discuss his full resignation (he currently remains a member, just not the chair), and the lawyer he recently hired says "he’s not going quietly." (Sports teams are dropping Papa John's like it's hot.)

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