The founder of Papa John’s pizza chain has resigned as chairman of the board, the company announced Wednesday night.
John Schnatter had apologized earlier in their day for using a racial slur in the context of quoting other people’s supposed use of it.
In a statement Wednesday evening, the company “announced that the independent directors of the company have accepted the resignation of John H. Schnatter as Chairman of the Board.”
Mr. Schnatter already had resigned earlier this year as CEO of the chain, which he built into a national powerhouse, over a sponsorship quarrel with the NFL over the national anthem protests and Papa John’s dipping sales.
But on Wednesday, Mr. Schnatter acknowledged as true a report that he had used the n-word in a conference call in May.
When asked how to distance himself from racist groups, he replied “Colonel Sanders called blacks n—s” but never had repercussions.
In his statement to Forbes magazine, which broke the conversation, Mr. Schnatter said that “news reports attributing the use of inappropriate and hurtful language to me during a media training session regarding race are true.”
Anonymous sources also told Forbes that Mr. Schnatter described racism in his hometown and gave explicit examples of violence blacks faced, which offended some people.
“Regardless of the context, I apologize. Simply stated, racism has no place in our society,” his statement added.
The furor over the use of the slur was already costing the pizza chain, heavily involved with the major-league sports leagues, before the late-night announcement.
According to Yahoo Sports, Major League Baseball indefinitely suspended its Papa Slam promotion in which the league dubbed each Grand Slam a “Papa Slam” and let baseball fans use an online code to get 40 percent off a Papa John’s order the next day.
The company said Olivia Kirtley will take over as “lead independent director” and the company will appoint a new chairman “in the coming weeks.”
• Gabriella Muñoz contributed to this report.