It all started towards the end of last year, when the pizza chain's then-CEO John Schnatter blamed slumping sales on the National Football League protests against police brutality and racial injustice in this country, a move that scored him fans in the alt-right (Papa John's was the official National Football League pizza sponsor until February of this year.) Schnatter then stepped down as the company's CEO, but remained the head of the board and the public face of the company. McConnell, an avid Louisville football fan, said "there's no place for racism in this country".
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Fearing more losses, top executives made a decision to remove Schnatter from all marketing materials, a source said on Friday, although they did not give any more details about how long this would take to achieve.
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According to the Washington Post, the Nationals were the latest team to do so, releasing a statement on Friday saying they "do not condone discrimination of any kind", and have suspended their partnership with the pizza chain, adding that the team "remain [s] supportive of our local operators who have been fantastic partners for more than eleven years".
Keith Hollingsworth, a professor with Morehouse College's business department, said keeping Schnatter in the marketing and advertising would signal to people that the company does not have a problem with his comments, or that it doesn't think they are a big deal.
"Papa John's is not an individual". Schnatter attended Louisville, was a major donor to the school and was a member of the school's Board of Trustees until he resigned from it on Wednesday. The resignation came hours after Schnatter apologized for using a racial slur during a conference call in May.
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Papa John's Cardinal Stadium will now be called simply Cardinal Stadium in the wake of a scandal involving the founder of the pizza chain whose company name has been attached to the stadium for years. Schnatter resigned as the chairman of the board of his company on Wednesday.
Papa John's stock is up almost 3% Friday on the news. Schnatter subsequently issued a statement acknowledging the use of "inappropriate and hurtful" language. But, "I said it, and it's wrong", he said. For the first three months of this year, Papa John's said a key sales figure fell 5.3 percent in North America. As of 1:05 p.m. Friday, Papa John's shares are $54.31, up more than 1 percent since the start of the day.
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