The interview started off harmlessly enough but things got weird when Schnatter was asked about his former company.
The founder and public face of Papa John’s used the N-word during a conference call between Papa John’s executives and marketing agency Laundry Service in May 2018. To put things in context, Schnatter was participating in a role-playing exercise for Schnatter designed to prevent future public-relations snafus
“Colonel Sanders called blacks n—–s,” Schnatter said on the conference call, before complaining that Sanders never faced public backlash. He then reflected on his early life in Indiana, where, he said, people used to drag African-Americans from trucks until they died.
In the interview with WDRB, Schnatter says the “conference call was taped” which is “good for me” because he “didn’t say anything that was racist.” He was trying to “convey his hatred for racism”.
He claims the entire exercise was a setup by people in his circle of trust who wanted to run the business and take more of the profits. “They know what they did, they know it was a setup, they know this whole thing is an entire farce.” He told WDRB.
Up to this point, the interview is innocuous enough. Then Schnatter starts talking about the quality of Papa Johns and things go off the rails.
“I’ve had over 40 [Papa John’s] pizzas in the last 30 days, they don’t make them the way I used to make it, the way we used to make it.” He said.
Schnatter ends the interview on an ominous note. “Stay tuned, the day of reckoning will come, the record will be straight.” He tells the interviewer.
“Why not set the record straight now? What is it about the record that’s not straight?” The interviewer asks.
Schnatter chuckles and says again, “stay tuned”.
A user on Twitter took parts of the interview, edited them together and slowed them down to hilarious effect.
You can watch the edited, slowed down video below:
Click here to watch Part 1 of the full, unedited interview.
Click here to watch Part 2 of the full, unedited interview.
John Schnatter’s Interview Was Immediately Turned into Memes
Papa John’s interview was a meme waiting to happen, all it took was some minor editing and the clips have started to go viral on Twitter. Most users isolated the “40 pizzas in 30 days” line and dubbed it over some other interviews.
Nearly every reply on the thread is a variation of “I’ve had 40 pizzas in 30 days.” Other users also pointed out how sweaty Schnatter appeared in the interview.
Another user took the opportunity to re-post an old photo of Schnatter drunk at a University of Louisville basketball game.
The meme got so popular that it caught the attention of supermodel Chrissy Teigen who retweeted the video and said “Papa John has f****** HAD IT”.
Other users talked about Schnatter wearing his trademark red shirt despite not working for Papa John’s anymore.
We’ll have to wait and see when John Schnatter’s “Day of reckoning” will be and what it will bring.
John Schnatter’s Departure From Papa John’s Was Ugly
Schnatter’s cryptic statements and heavy criticisms of his former company are to be expected after what happened during his removal. Schnatter has said for the past year that board members and other company executives conspired against him and are now perpetuating a “false narrative” against him.
Before the N-word scandal, Schnatter caused a wave of negative PR for the company after he took a shot at the NFL and blamed their “poor leadership” for Papa John’s poor sales. He cited players kneeling during the national anthem as the prime example of their leadership woes. Papa John’s stock fell 33% in the months following his comments.
“and more importantly, by not resolving the current debacle to the player and owners’ satisfaction, NFL leadership has hurt Papa John’s shareholders.” Schnatter said at the time.
Once Schnatter’s N-word comments went public, the board of directors prohibited him from talking to the media, removed him from the pizza chain’s advertising materials, and banned him from using his office space at the company’s headquarters.
While all of this was going on, Forbes released another article on the company detailing a toxic corporate culture where sexual harassment was commonplace and executives often traveled with their mistresses.
Schnatter did not go quietly. He filed two lawsuits against the company and publicly slammed them in the media for conspiring against him and failing to address their toxic culture. The dispute lasted for nearly a year before both sides came to an agreement in March 2019.
Schnatter agreed to step down from the board of directors and withdraw his nomination for reelection in July, agreed to work with the board to find an independent replacement, and dropped the two lawsuits.
Papa John’s agreed to remove an element of the plan that restricted Schnatter’s communications with other shareholders and granted him full access to the company’s books and records.
While the issue has been resolved for now, the damage to Papa John’s reputation and sales was already done. The pizza chains experienced declining sales in 5 straight quarters following the controversy.