Papa John's founder resigns after apologizing for reported racial slur

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NEW YORK (AP) — Papa John's founder John Schnatter is apologizing after reportedly using a racial slur during a conference call in May.

The apology Wednesday comes after Forbes cited an anonymous source saying the pizza chain's marketing firm broke ties with the company afterward.

Forbes said Schnatter used the N-word during a media training exercise. When asked how he would distance himself from racist groups, Schnatter reportedly complained that Colonel Sanders never faced a backlash for using the word.

In a statement released by Louisville, Kentucky-based Papa John's, Schnatter said reports attributing use of "inappropriate and hurtful" language to him were true.

"Regardless of the context, I apologize," the statement says.

The University of Louisville also said Wednesday that Schnatter resigned from its board of trustees, effective immediately.

Schnatter stepped down as CEO last year after blaming slowing sales growth on the outcry surrounding football players kneeling during the national anthem. Late Wednesday, he resigned as chairman of the company he started when he turned a broom closet at his father's bar into a pizza spot.

The News and Tribune reported Wednesday the City of Jeffersonville removed Schnatter's name from the Nachand Fieldhouse after reports of the remarks surfaced.

Papa John's shares fell nearly 5 percent Wednesday after the report, closing at $48.33.

On Wednesday, Papa John's responded and released this statement to WAVE3:

"Papa John’s condemns racism and any insensitive language, no matter the situation or setting. Our company was built on a foundation of mutual respect and acceptance. One of our core company values is People Are Priority Always (P.A.P.A.) and we are committed to maintaining a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace for all of our corporate and franchise employees. Diversity is an essential ingredient in our pursuit of providing a better product and better service to our customers and to the communities where we operate and live. We take great pride in the diversity of the Papa John’s family, though diversity and inclusion is an area where we will continue to strive to do better."

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