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Papa John's founder John Schnatter resigns as chairman of company's board after apologizing for racial slur

CNBC logo CNBC 5 days ago Sarah Whitten
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Papa John's founder John Schnatter has resigned as chairman of his company's board after admitting and apologizing for using the N-word during a May conference call.

The company said in a statement late Wednesday night that it will appoint a new chairman in the coming weeks. Olivia Kirtley will act as the company’s lead independent director, it added.

News of Schnatter's resignation came shortly after Yahoo Sports reported that the Major League Baseball had indefinitely suspended its Papa Slam promotion — a campaign that both sides have collaborated on since 2016. 

The MLB confirmed the suspension to CNBC.

Schnatter's conference call in May came to light after Forbes magazine detailed the incident in an article on Wednesday. The report said Schnatter was on a call with marketing agency Laundry Service when he tried to downplay comments he made about the National Football League and allegedly said, “Colonel Sanders called blacks n-----s."

Schnatter complained that the KFC founder never faced public backlash. The call was a role-playing exercise for Schnatter to prevent future public relations fumbles.

Shares of Papa John's fell by as much as 5.9 percent to a new 12-month low of $47.80 a share in intraday trading Wednesday — erasing $96.2 million in market value. The stock recovered somewhat, closing down 4.8 percent at $48.33 a share. Papa John's is down 13 percent so far this year while Domino's shares are up 48.5 percent.

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