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Papa Johns Founder Says N-Word Phone Call That He Resigned After Was ‘Anti-Racist’: I Was ‘Paraphrasing’ Colonel Sanders

Papa John’s founder and former CEO John Schnatter appeared on on Fox Business Network Monday to dish on his departure from the company two years ago — and defended the controversial phone call that preceded it.

In the wild interview with Fox’s Maria Bartiromo, Schnatter denied that he was “forced” out of the company after he apologized for using the N-word on a conference call with a marketing agency, instead insisting he retired with a succession plan in place.

He accused the pizza chain’s marketing agency, Laundry Service, of recording the call and attempting to extort Papa John’s for “millions of dollars.”

When asked directly if he used a racial slur on the call, Schnatter explained that he was “paraphrasing” KFC founder Colonel Sanders. Here’s a transcript of his exchange with Bartiromo:

Schnatter: No, there has never been any racial slurs. There’s never been any use of the word. That’s probably been the most frustrating. That’s not true at all. The call was 52 minutes and it was totally anti-racist. At the very end of the call, I simply stated what another founder said and the way he went about using that word. Colonel Sanders calls black people the N-word. I would never call a black person the N-word. It’s not the way I was raised.

Bartiromo: You were saying what Colonel Sanders said?

Schnatter: Yes, paraphrasing.

Bartiromo: Now, Colonel Sanders’ family, as you know, has come out and said he’s a weasel, he’s a liar, you know, Colonel Sanders would never speak like that, he never said that. I don’t know what John Schnatter is was talking about.

Schnatter: I haven’t heard that.

Bartiromo: Yes, the family came out and said that it’s not true.

Schnatter: That Colonel Sanders did not use that kind of language?

Bartiromo: That’s right. Yes. Colonel Sanders’ family said —

Schnatter: I don’t want to debate the Colonel, God rest his soul.

Bartiromo: Yes. No, I know. I’m just saying. But you repeated something that you saying Colonel Sanders said?

Schnatter: It was common knowledge that Colonel Sanders talked like that. But let’s not talk about the Colonel.”

Schnatter argued that Laundry Service “mischaracterized” what was said on the tape to a reporter at Forbes who first broke the story.

“To put it in context, the most unfathomable, unbelievable thing about this whole situation is that the old board and the old executive team under [Steve] Ritchie used the black community, used race in the media, Forbes, to steal the company and thus destroy the company or hurt the company very badly.”

Watch above, via Fox Business.

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Aidan McLaughlin is the Editor of Mediaite. Send tips via email: [email protected] Ask for Signal. Follow him on Twitter: @aidnmclaughlin