John H. Schnatter (born November 22, 1961), nicknamed commercially as Papa John, is an American entrepreneur who founded Papa John's Pizza in 1984. Schnatter stepped down as CEO on January 1, 2018, after comments he made in November 2017 criticizing National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell for allegedly not doing anything about national anthem protests by football players. He was succeeded as CEO by President and COO Steve Ritchie, but remained chairman of the board of directors until July 2018. He then resigned as chairman of the board on July 11, 2018, when a scandal broke out over his use of a racial slur when trying to minimize the controversy over his NFL national anthem comments by alleging that Colonel Harland Sanders had used the slur and it had not affected his popularity. As of March 2019, he remained the owner of 31 percent of the company's shares, but by May 23, he had sold 3.8 million shares and reduced his stake in the company to 19%. He remains the company's largest shareholder.
John H. Schnatter
November 22, 1961
|Residence||Anchorage, Kentucky, U.S.|
|Other names||Papa John|
|Alma mater||Ball State University|
|Occupation||Founder and former CEO and Chairman of Papa John's Pizza|
|Net worth||$801 million|
Early life and educationEdit
Schnatter was born in Jeffersonville, Indiana, on November 22, 1961, to Mary and Robert Schnatter. He has German ancestry. He graduated from Jeffersonville High School in 1979. then earned a business degree from Ball State University in 1983.
In the 1980s, John Schnatter's father co-owned Mick's Lounge, a tavern in Jeffersonville.
Schnatter founded Papa John's Pizza in 1984, when he converted a broom closet in the back of his father's tavern. Schnatter sold his 1971 Z28 Camaro to purchase $1,600 worth of used pizza equipment and began selling pizzas to the tavern's customers. His pizzas proved sufficiently popular that a year later he moved into an adjoining space. The company went public in 1993. A year later it had 500 stores, and by 1997 it had opened 1,500 stores. In 2009, Schnatter reacquired the Camaro back after offering a reward of $250,000 for the car.
In October 2017, in a conference call with investors, Schnatter blamed the National Football League for poor financial performance, stating "The NFL has hurt us ... We are disappointed the NFL and its leadership did not resolve this", referring to the U.S. national anthem protests by football players. Papa John's Pizza had a marketing agreement to be the "official pizza company" of the NFL and also had marketing deals with 23 of its individual teams, and Schnatter said the protests were hurting the company's sales of pizzas. Later that day, Papa John's announced that the NFL shield or "official sponsor" designation on Papa John's commercials and advertising would be removed.
As of November 2017, the company is the third largest take-out and pizza delivery restaurant chain in the world, with headquarters in Jeffersontown, Kentucky, part of the Louisville metropolitan area.
On December 21, 2017, Schnatter announced he would step down as CEO of Papa John's amidst controversy over comments he made regarding the NFL, saying they were not doing anything about players kneeling or sitting during the National Anthem and should have taken action. Schnatter was replaced as Chief Executive Officer effective January 1, 2018, by Chief Operating Officer Steve Richie. The company said Schnatter would still appear in the chain's commercials and on its pizza boxes, and was the company's biggest shareholder with approximately 9.5 million shares. He remained chairman of the company's board of directors at the time.
On July 11, 2018, it was reported that Schnatter had used the word "nigger" during a conference call with marketing agency Laundry Service in May of that year, saying "Colonel Sanders called blacks niggers and Sanders never faced public outcry". In the call, he also said that people in Indiana where he was from used to drag African Americans from trucks until they died, which may have been intended as a way of expressing distaste for historical racism, but was considered offensive by some of the people on the call. The conference call had been a role-playing exercise to help train Schnatter to avoid making remarks that could cause public controversy and damage the company reputation. After the call, the owner of the marketing agency moved to end their contract with Papa John's. Schnatter resigned as chairman of the board the same day the incident was reported. Later that same day, Schnatter also stepped down from his position on the University of Louisville board of trustees.
On July 26, 2018, Schnatter filed a lawsuit in Delaware against Papa John's Pizza to give him access to the company's books and records after they did not allow him to access the company's business records following his resignation in the wake of the teleconference call scandal. He described the company's procedures as an "unexplained and heavy-handed way" to cut ties between him and the company that he founded. In addition to preventing him from accessing information, the corporation also implemented a "poison pill" strategy in order to limit Schnatter's chances of buying back a majority stake in the company. Schnatter also filed a lawsuit against the company in Kentucky in a dispute over property ownership. In January 2019, a judge ordered the company to give Schnatter access to its records relating to his ouster. A settlement of the lawsuits was announced on March 5, 2019. Under the agreement, the company agreed to share all of company's records with Schnatter and agreed to remove a part of its "poison pill" plan that restricted Schnatter's communication with other shareholders, and Schnatter agreed that he would not seek to stay on the company's board of directors after his current term expires on April 30, 2019, and that if a mutually agreeable independent director is chosen to replace him, he would step down before the end of his term. Schnatter retained the right to sue if the records show wrongdoing by the company. The company also agreed to remove a requirement that the activist hedge fund Starboard Value, which owns about 10% of the company, must vote in favor of the incumbent board. As of March 2019, Schnatter remained the owner of 31 percent of the company's shares, but by May 23, he had sold 3.8 million shares and reduced his stake in the company to 19%. He remains the company's largest shareholder, and has committed to not selling additional shares of stock until at least August 19, 2019.
Schnatter has been married to his wife, Annette, since 1987. The couple live in Anchorage, Kentucky and have three children. Schnatter is an Evangelical Christian and is a member of the Southeast Christian Church.
In 1999, Schnatter was accused of stalking and groping a woman. He claimed the woman was trying to extort him for $5 million. The situation ended with a confidential settlement.
In 1983, Schnatter sold his 1971 Chevrolet Camaro to help his father's struggling business. He used the leftover funds to start Papa John's. Decades later, he offered a reward of $250,000 for finding the car, and on August 26, 2009, Schnatter bought the Camaro back for $250,000. The family he sold it to had sold it, but he still paid them a $25,000 finders fee. In celebration, Papa John's offered a free pizza to anyone who owned a Camaro. Schnatter's original Camaro has been on display in the company's headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky. The company owns several replicas that are used on tours and for public and TV appearances.[unreliable source?] On August 15, 2015, Schnatter's original Camaro was stolen along with two other classic cars in Detroit, where they were slated to appear in the city's annual Woodward Dream Cruise. The Camaro was recovered two days later on the city's west side with minimal damage.
In 2012, Papa John's and Schnatter received media attention after he made critical comments about the Affordable Care Act to a class on entrepreneurship. In a shareholder conference call, Schnatter said that he opposed the ACA because "our best estimate is that the Obamacare will cost 11 to 14 cents per pizza".
Awards and honorsEdit
- Named 1998 National Ernst & Young Retail/Consumer Entrepreneur of The Year.
- Named one of the Ten Outstanding Young Americans in 2000 by the National Jaycees Organization.
- Inducted into the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame in 2007.
- In May 2009 Schnatter was named honorary chair of the Ride to Conquer Cancer benefiting Louisville's Norton Cancer Institute.
- Inducted into the Kentucky Entrepreneur Hall of Fame in 2010.
- In 2012, he became an honorary initiate of Alpha Tau Omega.
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- Kleber, John E., ed. (2001). "Papa John's International Inc.". The Encyclopedia of Louisville. Lexington, Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky. p. 688. ISBN 0-8131-2100-0. OCLC 247857447. Retrieved March 22, 2017.
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- Lee, Yen Nee; Whitten, Sarah (July 11, 2018). "Papa John's founder John Schnatter resigns as chairman of company's board after apologizing for racial slur". CNBC. Retrieved July 12, 2018.
- Kirsch, Noah. "Papa John's Founder Used N-Word On Conference Call". Forbes. Retrieved 2018-08-09.
- "Papa John's, Schnatter Reach Settlement Agreement". U.S. News. Associated Press. March 5, 2019. Retrieved March 5, 2019.
- Lucas, Amelia (May 23, 2019). "Papa John's founder John Schnatter sells 3.8 million shares, but remains largest shareholder for now". CNBC. Retrieved May 24, 2019.
- "CEO John Schnatter Makes Big Dough With Papa John's Pizza". Investor's Business Daily. February 17, 2016. Retrieved July 11, 2018.
- Taylor, Kate (January 29, 2017). "Papa John's CEO: America is on a path to becoming what Germany was in 1867". Business Insider. New York City: Axel Springer SE. Retrieved July 13, 2018.
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- "About Papa Johns". Papa John's International. Archived from the original on April 2, 2013. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
- "This Marketing Insight Made Papa John's A Household Name". Business Insider. May 21, 2014. Retrieved July 15, 2018.
- "Found: Papa John's Long-Lost Camaro! Kentucky Man Receives $250,000 Finder's Fee" (Press release). Papa John's. August 25, 2009. Retrieved January 17, 2015.
- Rovell, Darren (November 1, 2017). "Papa John's says anthem protests are hurting deal with NFL". ESPN.com. Retrieved November 2, 2017.
- "2017 Top 100 Pizza Companies". Emerald Expositions, LLC. Retrieved July 12, 2018.
- "Papa John's offering free pizza to customers who place online order during Super Bowl weekend". WDRB. January 28, 2015. Retrieved March 9, 2015.
- Green, Kim (January 15, 2015). "Sunday With Papa John's Founder John Schnatter". Parade. New York City: Athlon Media Group. Retrieved March 9, 2015.
- "Jeffersontown to dedicate new bike and walking path Saturday". The Courier-Journal. November 7, 2007. p. C7. Retrieved December 6, 2012.
Papa John's office is in Jeffersontown
- "Papa's Specialty Pizza Challenge".[dead link] Papa John's Pizza. Retrieved on December 6, 2012. "Papa John's International Inc., 2002 Papa John's Blvd, Louisville, KY 40299". Archived October 23, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
- "Census – Census Block Map (Index)", United States Census, 2010; Jeffersontown City, Kentucky; page 1,. Retrieved on December 7, 2012.
- Taylor, Kate (December 21, 2017). "Papa John's controversial CEO steps down after facing backlash for his criticism of NFL anthem protests". Business Insider.
- Kirsch, Noah (July 11, 2018). "Papa John's Founder Used N-Word On Conference Call". Forbes. New York City: Forbes Media.
- Whitten, Sarah (July 11, 2018). "Papa John's founder Schnatter apologizes for using the N-word on conference call". CNBC. Retrieved July 12, 2018.
- Watkins, Morgan (July 11, 2018). "John Schnatter resigns from University of Louisville board of trustees". The Courier-Journal. Louisville, Kentucky: Gannett Company. Retrieved July 12, 2018.
- "'Papa John' files lawsuit against Papa John's pizza chain".
- J, Soundarya; DiNapoli, Jessica (March 5, 2019). "Papa John's founder Schnatter to exit board in settlement". Yahoo Finance. Reuters. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
- Cesca, Bob (August 6, 2012). "Chick-Fil-A Isn't the Only Evil Fast Food Chain". The Daily Banter. Retrieved October 11, 2015.
- Kirsch, Noah (July 19, 2018). "The Inside Story Of Papa John's Toxic Culture". Forbes. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
- "Papa John's boss finds Camaro, gives free pizza". NBC News. Associated Press. August 25, 2009. Retrieved August 17, 2015.
- "Found: Papa John's Long-Lost Camaro! Kentucky Man Receives $250,000 Finder's Fee". Papa John's. August 25, 2009. Retrieved January 17, 2015.
- "Papa John's founder pays 250Kg for Camaro". Coulee Courier (La Crosse Tribune). September 2, 2009. Archived from the original on July 30, 2010. Retrieved July 30, 2010 – via Associated Press.
- Whyte, Carol (August 26, 2009). "Founder of Papa John's Reunited with Camaro Sold in 1983". Yahoo Voices. Archived from the original on October 3, 2013. Retrieved August 17, 2015.
- Heiser, Tom (August 17, 2015). "John Schnatter's Camaro stolen in Detroit". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved August 17, 2015.
- Greenwood, Tom; Chambers, Jennifer (August 17, 2015). "Stolen Papa John's Camaro found on Detroit's west side". The Detroit News. Retrieved August 22, 2015.
- "Back to dough after losing bread: Papa John Schnatter shutters Calistoga Artisan Sandwich project after three and a half years". Insider Louisville. Archived from the original on April 19, 2012. Retrieved December 5, 2012.
- "Calistoga cafe prepares for real-world test". Louisville Business First. 10 March 2008. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
- Filloon, Whitney (July 19, 2018). "Papa John's Founder Accused of Sexual Misconduct and Fostering a 'Bro' Culture". Eater. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
- Resnikoff, Ned (November 20, 2012). "Denny's, Papa John's walk back criticism of Obamacare". NBCNews.com. Retrieved February 4, 2014.
- Tau, Byron (August 7, 2012). "Papa John's: Obamacare will raise pizza prices". Politico.com. Retrieved July 11, 2018.
- Gerth, Joseph (April 17, 2012). "Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney to visit Louisville Thursday for fundraiser". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved February 4, 2014.
- ""OpenSecrets Donor Lookup: John Schnatter"".
- Chipman, Melissa (March 9, 2017). "Behind the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards with Phoebe Wood". Insider Louisville. Retrieved November 7, 2017.
- "TOYA Past Honorees". July 22, 2011.
- Wolfson, Andrew (January 13, 2013). "The real Papa John: Pizza entrepreneur John Schnatter makes no apologies for wealth, success, Obamacare remarks: Math whiz mixed pizza passion, finance". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved November 7, 2017.
- "Conquer Cancer website". Conquercancer.ca. May 28, 2009. Retrieved July 30, 2010.
- Burke, Pamela; Lytle, Alan. "Nine Entrepreneurs Going Into New Hall of Fame". WUKY. Retrieved November 7, 2017.
- "'Papa John' Schnatter Talks About ATO". Alpha Tau Omega at Ball State. August 5, 2012. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
- Liotta, Paul (October 8, 2015). "In wake of the video scandal; a look at famous alumni from Alpha Tau Omega". New York Daily News. New York City: Tronc. Retrieved November 7, 2017.