John “Papa John” Schnatter — aka the founder and former CEO of the popular pizza chain — attracts controversy like dough naturally pairs with tomato sauce. Schnatter’s disastrous fall from his throne of pizza boxes first began in November 2017, when he slammed NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for his handling of the “take a knee” protests started by former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The movement, which saw football players kneeling during the national anthem, was in response to racial injustice in America. Amazingly, Papa J. somehow managed to blame the controversy on the chain’s lagging pizza sales, stating during a November 2017 conference call, per ESPN, “The NFL has hurt us. We are disappointed the NFL and its leadership did not resolve this.” The next month, amid fallout from the comments, Schnatter stepped down as the company’s CEO. Then in July 2018, the pizza king got in hot water when it was revealed he allegedly used racial slurs during a phone call with a branding agency. Adding insult to injury? That same month Forbes published an expose on instances of alleged sexual harassment in Papa John’s offices. Schnatter resigned as the chain’s chairman and was effectively blacklisted from the Papa John franchise, including being removed from its marketing materials.
As for the latest drama? The Indiana native went viral in November 2019 after claiming he gobbled down 40 pizzas in 30 days. Mama mia! But in true Papa John fashion, his comments came back to haunt him.
Papa John sets the record straight once and for all
If you’re perplexed as to how a disgraced former owner of a pizza chain is still a hot news topic, it might have something to do with John Schnatter’s flair for drama. Case in point: In November 2019, Schnatter claimed in an interview with Kentucky’s WDRB that he ate 40 pizzas in 30 days in an attempt to prove a point. “I’ve had over 40 pizzas in the last 30 days, and it’s not the same pizza,” he quipped. “It’s not the same product. It just doesn’t taste as good.” He added, “The way they’re making the pizza is just not fundamental to what makes a Papa John’s pizza.”
Considering the outlandishness of the ex-businessman’s claims (that’s a lot of dough to chow down), it’s truly no surprise his commentary went viral. “I’m trying to figure out how someone could eat 40 pizzas in 30 days,” one perplexed person tweeted at the time. “40 Papa Johns pizzas at that.”
As it turns out, however, Schnatter did not consume 40 pizzas to spite his former place of employment. “I didn’t say I’d eaten 40 pizzas in 30 days, I said that I had 40 pizzas in 30 days,” he clarified while on the H3 podcast in February 2020. “When I said I had a pizza, this means I’m inspecting. I’m not eating every pizza, I may be eating parts of pizzas.”
Papa John warns a "day of reckoning" is imminent
John Schnatter takes his pizza very seriously. So seriously, in fact, that he warned a “day of reckoning” is imminent for Papa John’s. “Stay tuned. The day of reckoning will come,” he told WDRB about getting axed from the company he founded. “The record will be straight.” He also didn’t have kind words for his now ex co-workers, stating, “I never dreamed that people that I cared about, that I loved, that I made multimillionaires, would do what they did. They fabricated it. Shame on them.”
When Papa John isn’t waxing poetic about vengeance, he spends his time chowing down on cheesy goodness. He revealed on the H3 podcast that he eats around eight or nine slices a week, which isn’t too much considering he ate 12 or 15 pieces per week when he was employed at the company. But just because Schattner still loves pizza, it doesn’t mean he’s hoping to return to Papa John’s. “My metaphor is: There’s no reason to be in the car when the car crashes even if you love the car,” he explained to WDRB while noting he sold most of his stock in the company.
Papa John doth protest too much, wethinks.
Papa John's personal life isn't on an upswing
When it rains it pours, at least for John Schnatter. Case in point: One month after Papa John made his wild claims about his pizza diet, it was revealed that his wife of 32 years, M. Annette Cox, had filed for divorce, per The Louisville Courier-Journal. The date of separation was listed as April 1, 2019, and it was reported they had already determined their division of assets. These assets reportedly include a “$11 million, 18,000-square-foot mansion, a $6 million condo, and a $23 million condo,” to name a few perks. Custody wasn’t an issue in the split because their children are adults.
Although Schnatter’s love life might have taken a hit in 2019, at least he’s still rolling in the dough. The fallen pizza emperor is reportedly worth a cool $500 million, per Celebrity Net Worth.
Bottom line? Schnatter might be rich, but he’s still lost to the sauce where it concerns his knack for causing scandals.
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