What The Hell Happened To PAPA JOHN?
After saying the n-word during a conference call, Papa John stepped down, but what the hell happened to the once adored face of Papa John's Pizza?
“Papa John” Schnatter is under fire after saying that the Holocaust was a good thing… Okay, he didn’t say that. But you kind of believed me for a second, didn’t you? Because Papa John has been awful as of late.
John Schnatter, the former CEO of Papa John’s and face of the franchise, has been through a mountain of trouble lately, seemingly putting his foot in his mouth again and again. We wanted to track the trajectory of America’s second most embarrassing Pizza CEO and try to find out what the hell happened to him!
Now, the beginning of Schnatter’s career is very impressive. He is, in fact, the original Papa, founding the company in 1984 when he operated out of a broom closet in his father’s bar in Jeffersonville, Indiana. Over the next 30 years, he turned Papa John’s into the third largest pizza take-out and delivery chain in the world with annual sales of $3.7 billion, and he became personally famous as well, appearing in his own commercials with Peyton Manning during NFL games.
Manning’s been a long-term spokesperson and brand ambassador for Papa John’s, and Schnatter even ran up to Manning and kissed him on the cheek after he won his final Super Bowl.
Even when Papa used to get bad press, it was still a lovable goofball. Like in 2013 when this photo of Papa drunk off his ass went viral after the Louisville Cardinals won the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. The headlines were very positive! “Here’s A Wonderful Photo Of A Shitfaced Papa John” and “This Photo of a Super Drunk Papa John Is The Greatest.”
But over the past few years, some cracks have appeared in Papa’s “Fun Dad” persona.
He was critical of Obamacare, arguing that if the company was required to provide health insurance for all of its full-time employees, the company would have to raise prices an average of 14 cents per pizza. However an analyses of that figure showed it probably wasn’t true. So, Papa John lied.
Papa stepped it up a notch in 2017. He criticized the NFL’s handling of the social justice protests held by players before football games, blaming them for declining sales. He said: “This should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago.” and “Good or bad, leadership starts at the top, and this is an example of poor leadership.”
Even worse than the comments themselves was who praised them. The white supremacist Daily Stormer website loved it, publishing this photo of a pizza with a swastika drawn out in pepperoni. And they called Papa John’s “The Official Pizza of the Alt Right.”
In a statement a few weeks later, the company tried to walk back Papa’s comments. They wrote: “We believe in the right to protest inequality and support the players’ movement to create a new platform for change. We also believe, as Americans, we should honor our anthem. There is a way to do both.”
Then in December, Papa announced he was stepping down as CEO, though as the company’s largest single shareholder, he would remain as chairman of the board. The controversy continued, however, so much so that Papa John’s is relinquishing its role as “Official Pizza of the NFL”. Peyton Manning sold all 31 of his Papa John’s franchises, though he pledged to remain a brand ambassador.
That brings us to the most recent kerfuffle, when on July 11 Papa reportedly used the N-word during a conference call.
According to Forbes, “the call was arranged between Papa John’s executives and marketing agency Laundry Service” as a role-playing exercise for Papa to prevent future public-relations snafus. But apparently, he defended himself against criticism by saying “Colonel Sanders called blacks the n-word” and yet he didn’t face the same backlash.
He didn’t say “the n-word.” He said the actual n-word.
He also referred to his youth in Indiana where people used to “drag African-Americans from trucks until they died.” These comments didn’t sit well with Laundry Service, which terminated their contract shortly thereafter. -In the wake of that controversy, the board asked him to step down as chairman, which he did.
But he’s now saying he regrets that decision.
He said: “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 will not allow either my good name or the good name of the company I founded and love to be unfairly tainted.”
In an interview with WLKY in Louisville, Schnatter says he was goaded into using the word. He also says that the agency attempted to blackmail Papa John’s, asking them for $6 million to not reveal the language he used.
But the company isn’t having the latest apology. Papa John is not only out of company leadership – he’s also been evicted from his office space at their Louisville headquarters.
The new CEO of Papa John’s, Steve Ritchie, wrote in a letter that all imagery of John Schnatter will be removed from company branding, and they’re committed to promoting a positive company culture free of racism.
But don’t feel too bad for Papa John, if you were at all. He’s worth an estimated $720 million dollars, and the 11% bump the company’s stock saw after he resigned increased his own net worth by about $50 million. He also lives on a 15-acre villa in Louisville worth $11 million, and owns the fastest civilian business jet in the world.
So, what happened to Papa John? Seems like a guy who’s been too rich for too long and failed to fully understand the motivations of the people who helped make him as rich as he is.
What do you guys think? Will you have Papa John’s in the future? Why would you? In any case, let us know in the comments or on Twitter at @WhatsTrending.