He's back. John Schnatter may be persona non grata at Papa John's, the ailing pizza chain he founded and led, until recent events forced him to give up his roles as CEO and then chairman. But that doesn't mean Schnatter doesn't miss the company's 120,000 employees.
Saying Papa John's board of directors is trying to "silence" him, Schnatter has launched a website, SavePapaJohns.com, to ensure his voice is heard.
In addition to legal documents and links to media coverage, the site includes a personal note from Schnatter, which reads:
"As I said in a recent letter, I miss you all very much. More than words can express! Papa John's is our life's work and we will all get through this together somehow, some way. I can only imagine how difficult this entire situation is on you, and I'm very sorry you all have to go through this. Know that in every minute of every day you are all in my thoughts and prayers."
Schnatter, who remains the pizza chain's largest shareholder, resigned last month as chairman following news he used a racial slur in a conference call.
That controversy came just seven months after Schnatter gave up his CEO roleafter bashing National Football League players for kneeling during the national anthem and then blaming the outcry surrounding their protests for slowing sales at Papa John's, at the time an NFL sponsor and advertiser.
Since those developments, Schnatter has had second thoughts, calling it a mistake for the company to erase him from its marketing materials and saying his offending comments were taken out of context. He also sued the chain at the end of July for access to its books and records, citing the "unexplained and heavy-handed way" Papa John's had treated him.
The company has adopted a "poison-pill" plan to try to try to keep Schnatter, who holds a roughly 30 percent stake in Papa John's, from amassing a controlling stake.
"We are not, nor should we be, dependent on one person," a Papa John's spokesperson emailed, adding that customers, employees and other stakeholders have expressed support for the company's actions to separate the Papa John's brand from Schnatter. "No matter what John does, he will not be able to distract from the inappropriate comments he made."
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