You can be on Entrepreneur’s cover!

Papa John's Founder Tries to Clarify Eyebrow-Raising Comment Made During Interview John Schnatter turned heads on social media after he told OANN that he was trying to "get rid of" the N-word in his vocabulary.

By Justin Chan

entrepreneur daily

Angela Weiss/ACMA2012 | Getty Images

Papa John's founder and ex-CEO John Schnatter attempted to clear up a controversial statement he made during an interview with right-wing outlet One America News Network (OANN).

Last Friday, Schnatter sat down with the network and accused his former pizza chain of trying to portray him as a racist in an order to get him out. Papa John's cut ties with its founder in 2018 after he took part in a conference call with consultants from the marketing agency Laundry Service and used the N-word.

"I mean, it's so bizarre," Schnatter told OANN of the chain's decision to sever their relationship. "It's evil to do this to another human being. I don't think I ever wanted to see it. But I knew I wasn't. I've never been anything — in my nature to be a racist. And the tape, there's nothing in there that's racist."

Related: Coca-Cola Asks Its Workers to Be 'Less White' to Fight Racism

When asked why he was "targeted in the first place," Schnatter alleged that Casey Wasserman, the founder of Laundry Service's parent company Wasserman Media, was "jealous." Schnatter also took jabs at former Laundry Service CEO Jason Stein, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, and former Papa John's board members Mark Shapiro and Steve Ritchie.

"[All] the stars aligned perfectly with one motive, and that is to get rid of me," he said. "Now, whether that was a conspiracy, whether it was organized or not, we still don't know that."

But perhaps the most questionable moment came when OANN host Kara McKinney asked Schnatter to recall the time he saw headlines about the 2018 incident. After describing the "state of shock" he went through, the ex-CEO spoke about how he and his team were trying to move on.

"It's just unbelievable. And I used to lay in bed just going 'How did they do this?' And we've had three goals for the last 20 months," Schnatter said. "To get rid of this N-word in my vocabulary and dictionary, and everything else, because it's just not true."

Still, social media users weren't convinced that Schnatter had turned over a new leaf. Some questioned whether he had been using the N-word regularly prior to being publicly caught.

"LOOOOOOL HOW OFTEN WERE YOU SAYING IT THAT IT TAKES 20 MONTHS TO REMOVE IT FROM YOUR VOCAB?!" one person wrote on Twitter.

"20..... months? It's taking 20 MONTHS for you to learn to not use the N word?" another asked.

In a statement to the New York Post, Schnatter tried to walk back his comments by clarifying that he had been trying to reverse "false perceptions in the media" about what he had said on the call.

"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," he said.

Justin Chan

Entrepreneur Staff

News Writer

Justin Chan is a news writer at Entrepreneur.com. Previously, he was a trending news editor at Verizon Media, where he covered entrepreneurship, lifestyle, pop culture, and tech. He was also an assistant web editor at Architectural Record, where he wrote on architecture, travel, and design. Chan has additionally written for Forbes, Reader's Digest, Time Out New YorkHuffPost, Complex, and Mic. He is a 2013 graduate of Columbia Journalism School, where he studied magazine journalism. Follow him on Twitter at @jchan1109.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Health & Wellness

Following These Five Practices Dramatically Improved My Mental Health — Find Out If They Could Help You, Too.

In today's environment, there's countless barriers to our focus on our mental health and emotional wellbeing. These five practices will help you overcome such barriers.

Business News

OpenAI Reportedly Used More Than a Million Hours of YouTube Videos to Train Its Latest AI Model

YouTube CEO Neal Mohan said last week that if OpenAI used YouTube videos to train text-to-video generator Sora, that would be a "clear violation" of the terms of use.

Business Solutions

Launch Your Coding Career With Help From This Discounted Bundle

Featuring Microsoft Visual Studio, this package provides building blocks you can apply toward long-term success at a surprisingly low price through April 16.

Business News

A Look Inside the Company That Is Making $500 Million a Year Serving Italian Beef Sandwiches Made Famous by 'The Bear'

Portillo's CEO Michael Osanloo shares his secret to keeping hungry customers coming back again and again. (Hint: It requires a lot of napkins.)

Franchise

One Factor Is Helping This Entrepreneur Tackle Business Ownership Later in Life. Now, She's Jumping Into a $20 Billion Industry.

Stacey Howell has reinvented herself multiple times. In her latest move, she leverages her extensive corporate career, history of public service and experience running a nonprofit as a Woodhouse Spa franchisee.

Growing a Business

6 Ways to Pioneer Creative Content with AI the Right Way

Here's how creative marketing teams can leverage AI while maintaining credibility and an authentic connection with their audience.