Major League Baseball has indefinitely suspended its Papa Slam promotion with Papa John’s pizza, Yahoo Sports has confirmed.
The pizza chain is under scrutiny after founder John Schnatter admitted to and apologized for using the N-word in a May training session, an event that became public Wednesday. In the aftermath, Schnatter announced his resignation as the company’s chairman late Wednesday night. He previously resigned his seat on the board of trustees at the University of Louisville.
Now Major League Baseball is distancing itself from Papa John’s. Their relationship began in 2016, when baseball started dubbing grand slams “Papa Slams.” Each one allowed baseball fans to get 40 percent off their order at Papa John’s the next day by using a Papa Slam online coupon code.
MLB’s web page for Papa Slams says that 20 have been hit in 2018, the last one being Dexter Fowler’s on Tuesday. However, Greg Bird of the New York Yankees hit a grand slam in the third inning of Wednesday’s game against the Baltimore Orioles and it was not celebrated as a Papa Slam by MLB.
Many MLB teams have their own promotions with Papa John’s outside of the league-wide Papa Slam promotion. For instance, Chicago White Sox fans get 50 percent off after a White Sox win with a special Papa John’s coupon code. Those types of deals are unaffected by MLB’s decision to suspend Papa Slams. Each team that has a deal with Papa John’s — whatever the discount may be — can decide whether to continue or suspend those deals.
The racist incident that spurred this was brought to light by Forbes, which reported on a May PR training session involving Schnatter. According to Forbes, Schnatter tried to downplay his past controversies by saying that Colonel Sanders — the founder of KFC — called black people the N-word.
In a statement issued Wednesday by Papa John’s, Schnatter said:
“News reports attributing the use of inappropriate and hurtful language to me during a media training session regarding race are true. Regardless of the context, I apologize. Simply stated, racism has no place in our society.”
Schnatter founded Papa John’s but stepped down as CEO last year after a different controversy. He blamed the company’s declining sales on protests in the NFL during the national anthem. While he stepped down as CEO, he’s still on the company’s board of directors.
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