Papa John's founder claims he was forced to resign through an extortion attempt and that leaving the company 'was a mistake'

Rob Kim/Getty ImagesJohn Schnatter was the face of Papa John’s. Rob Kim/Getty Images
  • Papa John’s founder and former CEO John Schnatter is claiming he was pressured to resign as chairman of the company and that leaving was “a mistake.”
  • Schnatter said that the circumstances surrounding his resignation included an extortion attempt.
  • Schnatter, 56, stepped down as chairman of Papa John’s on July 11 after admitting to using a racial slur on a company conference call in May.

Papa John’s founder and former CEO John Schnatter is claiming that he was forced to resign as chairman through an extortion attempt after admitting he used a racial slur on a company conference call.

In letters to the company’s board of directors sent over the weekend and reviewed by The New York Times and Wall Street Journal, Schnatter and his lawyer reportedly said he was pressured to resign without any investigation.

Schnatter said leaving the position “was a mistake,” and that the circumstances surrounding his resignation included an extortion attempt.

“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,” he said in the letter to the directors, as reported by The Journal.

He added: “I will not allow either my good name or the good name of the company I founded and love to be unfairly tainted.”

Schnatter’s lawyer, Patricia Glaser told The Times that Schnatter is “not going to go quietly into the night.”

“He is going to protect shareholders and the company as much as he can,” she said, adding that Schnatter will not “watch the company he worked so hard to build fall off a cliff.”

Glaser called for an investigation into what led to Schnatter’s resignation and said board members cannot remove him as director without a shareholder vote.

Schnatter, 56, stepped down as chairman of Papa John’s on July 11 after admitting to using the N-word on a company conference call in May, which was first reported by Forbes.

“News reports attributing the use of inappropriate and hurtful language to me during a media training session regarding race are true,” Schnatter said in a statement. “Regardless of the context, I apologise. Simply stated, racism has no place in our society.”

The company has since removed Schnatter’s face from the Papa John’s logo and marketing materials.

In his statement released on Sunday, Papa John’s said Schnatter’s sublease with the company’s office had been terminated.

Schnatter’s resignation came less than a year after he stepped down from his role as CEO of Papa John’s after making controversial statements about the NFL’s protests during the national anthem.

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