We live in a dumpster fire of a world at the moment, but recent events have reminded us that there’s still one golden rule. You can’t be famous and say racist stuff without consequences (certain presidents notwithstanding).
Roseanne Barr found herself back in the spotlight when the “Roseanne” reboot shot to the top of the ratings, a huge win for ABC. However, one racist tweet later and it all went away in the span of about ten hours. Never underestimate the power of messing with a major corporation’s bottom line.
That lesson was learned once more this week by Papa John’s chairman John Schnatter, a.k.a. Papa John, when it was revealed that he had used the N-word on a conference call meant to help him stop seeming like a racist. (Remember, he lost his CEO title last fall after “divisive” remarks about the NFL protests.) This media training was supposed to help make him look better in future interviews. Instead, it made him look much worse.
On the May call, Schnatter was asked how he would distance himself from racist groups online. He responded by downplaying the significance of his NFL statement. “Colonel Sanders called blacks n—–s,” Schnatter allegedly said, before complaining that Sanders never faced public backlash.
Schnatter also reflected on his early life in Indiana, where, he said, people used to drag African-Americans from trucks until they died. He apparently intended for the remarks to convey his antipathy to racism, but multiple individuals on the call found them to be offensive, the source said.
While a lot of people prepped themselves for the inevitable hand-slap, that wasn’t the case at all. In just a few days since the following has happened:
- Schnatter resigned as chairman of the board for Papa John’s.
- He stepped down from the Louisville Board of Trustees.
- Major League Baseball suspended its Papa Slam promotion with Papa John’s.
- Papa John’s shares tanked.
- Papa John’s is removing Schnatter’s likeness from all of their promotional material and logos.
- Louisville removed Schnatter’s name from the Center for Free Enterprise at their College of Business, which he had donated $4.64 million for.
- The school is also removing the name Papa John’s from their football stadium (formerly known as “Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium”), which was doable because the naming rights belonged to Schnatter and not the company.
Bendapudi says the decision was hers alone. She took input from others but it is her personal prerogative as president so she made it. Signage will be removed ASAP.
— Mark Ennis (@MarkEnnis) July 13, 2018
It’s a stunning fallout from a speed perspective, even if it seems as though a lot of people have been waiting for Schnatter to go too far for some time now. In 2012, he blamed Obamacare for falling pizza prices. More recently, he blamed NFL player protests for poor sales numbers since Papa John’s was an NFL sponsor, which sent stock prices tumbling and cost him the CEO position. The company’s NFL sponsorship ended prematurely earlier this year, in part because of the negative fallout from the comments.
Schnatter has also gained a reputation for throwing his weight around at Louisville, especially on matters involving the football and basketball programs. He clashed with former AD Tom Jurich and was said to make demands about coaching hires and program direction. He also took a photo or two at Louisville sporting events that were, at best, regrettable for a trustee.
— Shutdown Fullcast, the world's only CFB podcast (@ShutdownFullcas) November 18, 2016
All of which is to say that Schnatter probably deserved everything that has happened to him in the past few days, but also, Louisville is more than happy to kick him out the door either way.
Fundraising opportunity: Let Louisville fans pay to destroy the shit out of the Papa John's kiosks and signs inside the stadium instead of hiring a company to do it.
No-brainer. Also great live video opportunity for the ACC Network.
— Mike Rutherford (@CardChronicle) July 13, 2018
The weirdest part of the whole saga? The most stable person in Louisville Athletics is now Bobby Petrino.