Papa John’s founder John Schnatter, who stepped down as CEO of the pizza chain in March after months of turmoil, gave an instantly-viral interview to WDRB on Monday in which he claims the current owners conspired to oust him.
“I never dreamed that people that I cared about — that I loved, that I made multimillionaires — would do what they did,” he said in the interview released Monday, shifting the blame for his exit. “Shame on them.”
Schnatter also went after new CEO Steve Ritchie directly for having “no pizza experience.”
“He has never been in the pizza category,” he said of Ritchie, going on to blast the company for making pizza in his absence that “just doesn’t taste as good” as it did when he was in charge.
The chain founder even went as far as to say Ritchie and chair Olivia Kirtley “stole” and “destroyed the company,” using “the black community and race” to do it.
Schattner promised that the “day of reckoning will come” and that “the record will be straight.”
As for the actual product, the former chief said he has eaten “over 40 pizzas in the last 30 days, and it’s not the same pizza, it’s not the same product … the way they’re making the pizza is just not fundamental to what makes a Papa John’s pizza.”
Before officially resigning earlier this year, Schnatter had been locked in a bitter legal battle with Papa John’s since he stepped down as chief executive in 2017 following his criticism of the NFL over player protests, blaming them for low pizza sales. He has also been accused of using the N-word in a company conference call, which he has repeatedly vehemently denied.
In July 2018, he filed a lawsuit to force his former company to disclose all documents related to its response to his use of the word, saying though he’d stepped down for the “good of the company,” he “vehemently denies the veracity of the news reports.” Just two months prior, in May 2018, he had said the news reports “attributing the use of inappropriate and hurtful language” to him during the call were “true.”
“Olivia Kirtley and [director] Mark Shapiro should be in jail,” Schnatter said. “It’s that bad.”
Representatives for Papa John’s did not immediately return a request for comment on the interview.
Watch excerpts from Schnatter’s interview above and see the full interview on the WDRB website.