Papa John's is surging after founder John Schnatter resigns from board and apologizes for using a racial slur

  • Papa John's founder and executive chairman John Schnatter resigned Wednesday following a public apology for using a racial slur on a conference call in May. 
  • The pizza stock surged more than 5% in early trading Thursday, erasing some of its heavy losses from Wednesday.
  • Follow Papa John's stock price in real-time here. 

Shares of Papa John's were up more than 5% in early trading Wednesday following the resignation of founder and executive chairman John Schnatter, who on Wednesday apologized for using a racial slur on a May conference call with company executives and an outside marketing agency.

"News reports attributing the use of inappropriate and hurtful language to me during a media training session regarding race are true," Schnatter said in a statement to Business Insider, alluding to Forbes' first reporting of the incident. "Regardless of the context, I apologize. Simply stated, racism has no place in our society."

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John Schnatter, founder and chief executive of Papa John's Pizza, arrives at the 2011 American Music Awards in Los Angeles November 20, 2011. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT BUSINESS FOOD) (AMA-ARRIVALS)
John Schnatter (R), founder and chief executive of Papa John's Pizza, arrives at the 2011 American Music Awards in Los Angeles November 20, 2011. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT BUSINESS FOOD) (AMA-ARRIVALS)
MIAMI, FL - JULY 11: A Papa John's restaurant is seen on July 11, 2018 in Miami, Florida. The founder of Papa John's pizza, John Schnatter, apologized Wednesday for using the N-word on a conference call in May. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 12, 2014: 'Papa' John Schnatter, founder and CEO of 'Papa John's Pizza' takes part in a radio show prior to a game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns on October 12, 2014 at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland won 31-10. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 24: Papa John's founder and CEO John Schnatter attends the Indy 500 on May 23, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 04: John Schnatter and Halston Sage attend a basketball game between the Dallas Mavericks and the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on April 4, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Noel Vasquez/GC Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 12, 2014: 'Papa' John Schnatter, founder and CEO of 'Papa John's Pizza' takes part in a radio show prior to a game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns on October 12, 2014 at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland won 31-10. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - APRIL 07: John Schnatter, Founder and Chairman of the Board for Papa John's Pizza, gives a thumbs up before a charity exhibition race against Antron Brown (not pictured) during the the 19th Annual DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals Saturday, April 7, 2018, in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by: Marc Sanchez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 31: John H. Schnatter, Founder, Chairman & CEO of Papa John's International, Inc. rings the NASDAQ Opening Bell at NASDAQ MarketSite on January 31, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 01: Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones (L) and Papa John's Pizza founder John Schnatter attend the DirecTV Super Saturday Night at Pier 40 on February 1, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Charles Norfleet/FilmMagic)
Spider Man and Papa John Founder John Schnatter at the Spider-Man and Papa John's Honor 'Hometown Super-Heroes' October 29, 2007 in Times Square in New York City. (Photo by Mark Von Holden/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 20: Founder of Papa John's Pizza John Schnatter attends the Official After Party for the 2011 American Music Awards held at the Conga Room at L.A. LIVE on November 20, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by John Shearer/AMA2011/Getty Images for AMA)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 20: 'Papa John's' Pizza Founder John Schnatter arrives at the 2011 American Music Awards held at Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE on November 20, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/AMA2011/Getty Images for AMA)
NEW YORK - OCTOBER 29: Founder of Papa John's John Schnatter speaks onstage at the Spider-Man and Papa John's Pizza's announcement of 'Hometown Super-Heroes' in Times Square October 29, 2007 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 06: Paps John's CEO John Schnatter attends the 132nd Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 6, 2006 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images)
John Schnatter, founder & Pres. of a chain of Papa John's pizza restaurants, w. employees at one of his 1,049 outlets, making a surprise quality check on a row of pizzas layed out on counter at restaurant. (Photo by Taro Yamasaki/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
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The Louisville, Kentucky-based pizza chain said in a press release that it would announce a new chairman in the coming weeks.

"Our company was built on a foundation of mutual respect and acceptance," the company's apology said. "We take great pride in the diversity of the Papa John's family, though diversity and inclusion is an area where we will continue to strive to do better."

Papa John's once generated annual revenue of more than $1.7 billion, but took a hit following the NFL controversy. Its stock plummeted 11% soon after an earnings call that addressed the scandal, according to Forbes. Schnatter resigned as CEO in January but remained on the board.

Papa John's announced in late December that Schnatter would be stepping down as CEO and would be replaced by Steve Ritchie. However, Schnatter remained the chairman of the company's board.

Schnatter has a history of making political statements that have sparked controversy.

He came under fire in 2012 for saying the Affordable Care Act, the healthcare law better known as Obamacare, would be a "lose-lose" for Papa John's franchisees and employees. He has spoken out extensively against what he says is overregulation by the government.

Papa Johns were down almost 14% this year through Wednesday.

Kate Taylor and David Choi contributed to this report. 

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