People

John Schnatter

Founder, Papa John's Pizza
John Schnatter

John H. Schnatter (born November 22 or 23, 1961), nicknamed commercially as Papa John, is an American entrepreneur who founded Papa John's Pizza in 1984. Schnatter started the business in the back of his father's tavern after selling his car and using the proceeds to purchase used restaurant equipment. As of 2017, his net worth was over $1 billion.

Schnatter stepped down as CEO on January 1, 2018, after controversy around his comments that the National Football League (NFL), who had a business affiliation with Papa John's, had not done enough to stop national anthem protests by NFL players, and that the protests had hurt his business. Before he stepped down, his comments had resulted in the NFL cancelling its association with Papa John's.

After stepping down as CEO, Schnatter remained chairman of the board of directors until July 2018, when he used a racial slur for black people during an internal sensitivity-training conference call, saying as an extreme example of historical social practices that Colonel Sanders had used the slur without backlash. Schnatter resigned when the comment became public, but has since maintained that the board conspired against him and unfairly forced him out of his position.

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Last Updated: June 9, 2021


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