Papa John's founder claims he was forced to resign through an extortion attempt and that leaving the company 'was a mistake'

  • Papa John's founder and former CEO John Schnatter is claiming he was pressured to resign as chairman of the company and that leaving was "a mistake."
  • Schnatter said that the circumstances surrounding his resignation included an extortion attempt.
  • Schnatter, 56, stepped down as chairman of Papa John's on July 11 after admitting to using a racial slur on a company conference call in May.

Papa John's founder and former CEO John Schnatter is claiming that he was forced to resign as chairman through an extortion attempt after admitting he used a racial slur on a company conference call.

In letters to the company's board of directors sent over the weekend and reviewed by The New York Times and Wall Street Journal, Schnatter and his lawyer reportedly said he was pressured to resign without any investigation.

Schnatter said leaving the position "was a mistake," and that the circumstances surrounding his resignation included an extortion attempt.

16 PHOTOS
Papa John's controversial founder John Schnatter
See Gallery
Papa John's controversial founder John Schnatter
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)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

"The board asked me to step down as chairman without apparently doing any investigation. I agreed, though today I believe it was a mistake to do so," he said in the letter to the directors, as reported by The Journal.

He added: "I will not allow either my good name or the good name of the company I founded and love to be unfairly tainted."

Schnatter’s lawyer, Patricia Glaser told The Times that Schnatter is "not going to go quietly into the night."

"He is going to protect shareholders and the company as much as he can," she said, adding that Schnatter will not "watch the company he worked so hard to build fall off a cliff."

Glaser called for an investigation into what led to Schnatter's resignation and said board members cannot remove him as director without a shareholder vote.

Schnatter, 56, stepped down as chairman of Papa John's on July 11 after admitting to using the N-word on a company conference call in May, which was first reported by Forbes.

"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. "Regardless of the context, I apologize. Simply stated, racism has no place in our society."

The company has since removed Schnatter's face from the Papa John's logo and marketing materials.

In his statement released on Sunday, Papa John's said Schnatter's sublease with the company's office had been terminated.

Schnatter’s resignation came less than a year after he stepped down from his role as CEO of Papa John's after making controversial statements about the NFL's protests during the national anthem.

More from Business Insider:

Read Full Story