Papa John's founder and former CEO insists he's not racist. John Schnatter recently went on the far-right network OAN to disavow those who insist that he is, Mediaite reports. Since reports of him using the n-word on a company call in 2018 led to his exit from the company, Schnatter says that "We’ve had three goals for the last 20 months: To get rid of this n-word in my vocabulary and dictionary and everything else, because it’s just not true." Yet, he complained, he's been the subject of "heinous" and "evil" attacks nonetheless. Schnatter was, somewhat inexplicably, wearing a Papa John's shirt for the interview, part of which you can watch here. Schnatter also insinuated there may have been a "conspiracy" to oust him as CEO, and accused people of "painting" him as racist, Yahoo News reports.
Schnatter, who was also criticized for controversial comments about the NFL's national anthem protests, later clarified his comments about working to rid his vocabulary of the racial slur, saying in a statement, "On OANN, I tried to say, ‘Get rid of this n-word in (the) vocabulary and dictionary (of the news media), and everything else because it’s just not true,’—reflecting my commitment to correct the false and malicious reporting by the news media about the conference call. It was proven in an investigative report by former FBI Director Louis Freeh that there was nothing racist in my words or actions on the conference call with our ad firm and that there has never been in my history. In fact, I said then, ‘I never used the word’ on that call, though the media failed to report that crucial qualifier when I was paraphrasing a third party." Newsweek notes that Schnatter previously admitted using the n-word, but said it was acceptable since it was not used as a slur. (Read more John Schnatter stories.)