The disgraced founder of Papa Johns says the company is making worse pizzas without his 'conservative values' of 'truth and God'

·3 min read
John Schnatter
John Schnatter.REUTERS/Danny Moloshok
  • John Schnatter says Papa Johns pizza has gotten worse without his "conservative values."

  • Schnatter suggested that "truth and God" made Papa John's great.

  • Schnatter left the company in 2018 after admitting to using the N-word on a conference call.

The controversial founder of Papa Johns, John Schnatter, said this weekend the company's pizza has gotten worse without his "conservative values."

During an interview with the Right Side Broadcasting Network at the the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, in Dallas, Schnatter said quality, service, and culture were what helped make Papa John's a hit.

But now, he said, Papa Johns has "lost it way," that it's "losing money," and is "down with Little Caesar's."

"We built the whole company on conservative values. Conservative ideology has two of the most critical attributes: truth and God," Schnatter said.

During his August 4 speech at CPAC, Schnatter also made a cryptic proclamation that "evil forces" were controlling the world, while calling liberals "stupid."

Schnatter resigned as chairman of the company in July 2018 after he admitted to saying the N-word on a conference call. The incident came months after Schnatter partially blamed the slump in pizza sales on NFL players kneeling during the national anthem.

In March 2021, he said it had taken him nearly two years to "get rid of" the word from his vocabulary, but said in the same interview that he "couldn't understand" the backlash he got.

Since he stepped down from his position, the ex-CEO has repeatedly been critical of the company. In August 2018, Schnatter launched a now-defunct website called SavePapaJohns.com, where he accused the board of directors of trying to "silence" him.

In November 2019, he said he ate more than 40 pizzas from the chain within 30 days and found that the quality had been destroyed. In response, the chain's current CEO, Rob Lynch, said the pizza chain had not changed its recipe.

In November, Schnatter said he had eaten 800 pizzas within 18 months to sample the chain's offerings.

"Some were burnt," he told Bloomberg. "Some were undercooked."

The chain suffered financial losses in 2018 and 2019, which it attributed to its founder's controversial comments. But in 2020, the business saw an upswing in profits due to the pandemic, prompting Lynch to say that he thought this rise in sales would go up "for the foreseeable future."

The company has also rebranded — in November, it changed its name from Papa John's to Papa Johns. This prompted a rebuttal from Schnatter, who released a statement accusing the company of being "obsessed with Papa John and irrelevant changes to the brand logo."

"Try as they may, they can't have Papa Johns without Papa John," Schnatter wrote.

Schnatter and representatives for Papa Johns did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment. Little Caesers did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

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