- Papa John's founder John Schnatter discussed merging the pizza chain with Wendy's, the Wall Street Journal reports.
- The talks reportedly began before Schnatter resigned as chairman of the board. Schnatter resigned after news broke that he had used the N-word in a conference call.
- While Papa John's has removed Schnatter's face from the company's logo and marketing materials, he remains on the board and continues to own roughly 30% of the company.
People familiar with the matter told the Wall Street Journal that Schnatter held preliminary talks with Wendy's that began before he stepped down as chairman of Papa John's last week. According to one person who spoke with the Journal, the talks have "cooled since the incident."
Schnatter, Papa John's founder and former CEO, stepped down as chairman of the company on July 11 after he admitted to using the N-word in a company conference call in May, which was first reported by Forbes.
Since then, Papa John's had removed Schnatter's face from the company's logo and marketing materials, and it eventually terminated his access to the company offices.
Despite this, Schnatter remains on the board and continues to own roughly 30% of the company.
In letters to the company's board of directors sent over the weekend and reviewed by The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, Schnatter and his lawyer reportedly said he was pressured to resign. Schnatter said leaving the position "was a mistake," and that the circumstances surrounding his resignation included an extortion attempt.
Schnatter has long attracted controversy, in large part because of his political viewpoints.
While he was the company's CEO, his statements about the NFL dragged Papa John's into the middle of a polarizing debate, garnering backlash on the left and support on the right. Papa John's announced in late December that Schnatter was stepping down as CEO and would be replaced by Steve Ritchie.
Schnatter also came under fire in 2012 for saying the Affordable Care Act could be "lose-lose" for Papa John's franchisees and employees. The backlash was swift, with many promising to boycott Papa John's in response to Schnatter's comments.
Schnatter also donated $1,000 to Donald Trump's presidential campaign, though he did not publicly express support for him.
- Papa John's founder claims he was forced to resign through an extortion attempt and that leaving the company 'was a mistake'
- Papa John's controversial founder is being kicked out of the chain's office after saying the N-word during a conference call
- Papa John's has already scrubbed its founder from its logo and marketing