The founder of the restaurant chain known for delivering pizzas that taste like the cover of a Presbyterian hymnal covered in ketchup and heated in an E-Z Bake Oven, filed a lawsuit blaming his use of a racial slur on Colonel Sanders, Kanye West and—most importantly—the people who recorded him using the epitaph.
On Thursday, Papa John’s founder John Schnatter filed a claim against the marketing firm Laundry Service, whom Schnatter blames for leaking audio of him using the n-word during a 2018 sensitivity training. Schnatter’s suit says Laundry Service recorded him without his knowledge and then used the recording to extort him, according to Ad Age. Papa Racist refuses to admit to using the slur, insisting that he was taken out of context because, in corporate environments, there are certain times when it is appropriate to say “nigger.”
Here’s what happened.
In late 2017, during a shareholders’ conference call, Schnatter blamed his falling pizza sales on Colin Kaepernick and the NFL, not the fact that Papa John’s pizza sauce was chemically and gustatorily indistinguishable from hippopotamus vomit. The subsequent public fallout forced the father of shitty pizza to apologize and hold perfunctory sensitivity training sessions. During a May 22, 2018 training call, Schnatter was recorded explaining how Colonel Sanders used the word “nigger” according to a Forbes report, who first published the audio. He was eventually forced to step down from the board of directors. Now Schnatter said it wasn’t like that.
Schnatter’s suit says that Laundry Service’s CEO floated the idea of gaining back their negro favorability rating by using Kanye West in commercials. After a few days of contemplating the Yeezy pizza campaign, Schnatter says he disapproved because of Kanye’s “controversial nature and use of the ‘n-word’ in his lyrics.” But when he called Laundry Service to tell them that he was a “nay” on hiring ‘Ye, they started bringing up old shit and asking him about his views on race and how he expected to sell pizza that tasted like Jim Crow and redlining if black folks were not in the restaurant’s customer base.
“Colonel Sanders called blacks niggers,” Schnatter reportedly replied, adding that the KFC founder never faced backlash (because, you know, black folks love chicken).
Schnatter denies everything. He says he was actually speaking out against racism and injustice. He doesn’t mind the NFL protests and he would never say “nigger.” He doesn’t even like when Kanye uses it with the A at the end! He’s the victim here because, had he known he was going to be recorded, he would have never said that thing he was recorded saying. But he definitely didn’t say it. And if he did, it was out of context. Plus, that’s entrapment. I guess you just had to be there.
USA Today reports:
The release says the recording supports Schnatter’s repeated assertions that he “never used that word.”
It also asserts Schnatter was misled about the purpose of that conversation with Laundry Service, which was as an advertising agency for Papa John’s at the time.
“He was led to believe the call would concern new marketing initiatives for Papa John’s, but Laundry Service instead used the call to ask him questions regarding his views on race,” the complaint says. “Throughout this call – which Laundry Service recorded without his knowledge – Mr. Schnatter spoke out against the insidious effects of racism in society and relayed some of his own experiences from growing up in Indiana.”
See? It’s not his fault.
Kanye’s the controversial one. Schnatter only wanted the same treatment Colonel Sanders was afforded. Filed unironically in the Louisville, Ky., system that combines Kentucky’s Family and Civil courts, (seriously he filed it at a KFC court), Schnatter’s suit does not mention that Colonel Sanders was born in 1890, when all white people in the state used the n-word and believed slavery was a choice.
Instead, the lawsuit blames Laundry Service for recording the audio. He also faults the parent company of Laundry Service for leaking the audio to Forbes after, Schnatter claims, the company’s CEO threatened to “bury” him if he didn’t fork over $6 million.
“The facts will show that my words were taken out of context and used to manufacture a scandal against me based on a completely false narrative,” Schnatter said in a press release.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for breach of contract, tortious interference with prospective economic advantage and intentional infliction of emotional distress. If his lawsuit is successful, Schnatter promises to donate the money to charity.
As long as he doesn’t bring that shitty pizza.