U.S. — Papa John’s founder and former CEO John Schnatter gave his first major interview since being ousted from the company, and it’s safe to say he’s not happy with the way things went down.
Schnatter, 58, gave the wide-ranging interview with Kentucky TV station WDRB where he criticized the pizza chain for everything from the quality of the pizza to its upper management.
“I’ve had over 40 pizzas in the last 30 days, and it’s not the same pizza,” Schnatter said of the company.
“It’s not the same product. It just doesn’t taste as good. The way they’re making the pizza is just not fundamental to what makes a Papa John’s pizza.”
“This is all a farce”
Schnatter said in the interview that he was set up, calling the controversy that led to his resignation a “farce.”
“I never dreamed that people that I cared about, that I loved, that I made multimillionaires, would do what they did,” Schnatter said.
“I just didn’t know it would happen from people on the inside doing this. I thought it would come from the outside.” Schnatter said he believes that the company’s board of directors “used the black community and race as a way to steal the company.”
Papa John’s did not immediately respond to a request from CNN.
A day of reckoning
Schnatter, who founded the company in 1984, believes it is now being mismanaged. He has sold most of his stock in the company and is no longer the largest individual shareholder.
“My metaphor is: There’s no reason to be in the car when the car crashes even if you love the car,” Schnatter said.
While he said that he currently has no interest in returning to the company, he believes that he would be welcomed back with open arms.
“If the management team was out, and I went back in, they’d be cheering,” he said. “They’d be doing back flips. They’d be bouncing off the walls.”
While Schnatter declined to reveal any more details, he had an ominous warning: “Stay tuned. The day of reckoning will come. The record will be straight.”
Ouster from Papa John’s
The backlash that led to Schnatter leaving the company began when he blamed declining sales on the NFL’s handling of player protests during an analyst call in late 2017. Papa John’s was the official pizza sponsor of the NFL at the time.
A white supremacist website named Papa John’s the official pizza of the alt-right a day later.
Months after that, Schnatter was heard using a racial slur in audio from an internal diversity training meeting. It was taped in secret and leaked to Forbes.
Schnatter stepped down as CEO shortly after that audio leaked.