“News reports attributing the use of inappropriate and hurtful language to me during a media training session regarding race are true. Regardless of the context, I apologize. Simply stated, racism has no place in our society,” Schnatter said.
The marketing company, Laundry Service, declined to comment on Schnatter’s statement.
Forbes reported that Wasserman Media Group, Laundry Service’s parent company, moved to end its contract with Papa John's after the call.
Schnatter founded Papa John’s in 1984. He is the public face of the company and its largest shareholder, with a 29 percent share in the company. He stepped down as CEO but remains chairman of the company, CNN reports.
Papa John’s was the exclusive pizza sponsor of the NFL until the partnership ended earlier this year under new CEO, Steve Richie.
The company is the third largest pizza chain in the United States, behind Domino’s and Pizza Hut.