At CPAC, John Schnatter says Papa Johns is now 'down with Little Caesars' since his exit
Most arguments about pizza are centered around how it's served – whether pineapple belongs as a topping, for instance, or if it's better hot or cold.
The founder of Papa Johns Pizza, though, had a different argument when he spoke this week at a conservative political convention. "Conservative values," he said, were behind the success of the famed restaurant chain.
In an interview Thursday at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Papa Johns founder and former CEO John Schnatter said "truth in God" and truth in unity" were key factors that helped his former company emerge as one of the biggest pizza chains in the world.
“We built the whole company on conservative values – that’s what I’m saying,” he said at the convention in Dallas during an interview with Right Side Broadcasting Network “… If you run your life on principles you’re truthful and factual, and you have win-win mutual respect and you’re thoughtful and considerate, you’re going to win.”
Schnatter stepped down as the company's CEO in early 2018 after facing pressure following comments he made in 2017 that placed the blame for declining pizza sales on NFL players who had protested during the playing of the national anthem. Months later in July 2018, Schnatter resigned from the board of directors after it was revealed he'd used a racial slur on a call with a public relations firm that had been hired to help the company avoid additional public relations mishaps.
Schnatter has contended he was quoting another person during the conversation and that he was set up by the public relations firm on the call. In 2019 he filed a lawsuit against that firm, Laundry Service, and its parent company.
Schnatter hasn't been quiet following his exit from the company. The man who once claimed he'd sampled "more than 40 pizzas in the last 30 days" to continue to test the quality of Papa Johns products told an interviewer Thursday at CPAC the quality of pizzas produced by his old company has declined in recent years.
"They now are down with Little Caesars," Schnatter said, referencing a competing company that sells some pizzas for $6.
'It was a crucifixion': John Schnatter speaks out, again, on his exit from Papa John's
In the interview, Schnatter said his conservative policies, with a focus on good service and products, were a key reason why the company had performed well during his time with the chain, which dropped the apostrophe and rebranded from "Papa John's" to "Papa Johns" in 2021 but kept is well-known slogan of "Better ingredients. Better pizza."
"If you don't have that quality, you don't have the service and you don't have the culture, you're asking for a bad day at the office," he said, while noting many franchises "really did well" during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
At CPAC today, John Schnatter says Papa Johns had the best pizza out there every year when he was in charge, because he instilled “conservative values” of “truth and God.” But since he was fired as CEO for repeatedly using the N-word, it has gone down hill. pic.twitter.com/1UQeK8Ny11
— Ron Filipkowski 🇺🇦 (@RonFilipkowski) August 4, 2022
From 2021:John Schnatter releases audio of infamous 'N-word' call, says it proves he was set up
He's been open and vocal about his political ideology in recent years. In a 2021 interview with Bloomberg, Schnatter said the "progressive elite left" was a factor in his downfall with his old company, which grew from one shop in Jeffersonville, Indiana, that opened in 1984 to a worldwide chain with more than 5,000 locations.
“The Papa John's story totally debunks the left’s ideology,” he said in that interview. “This is America. You can live the American dream.”
Papa Johns' company headquarters was located in the Louisville area throughout his time as head of the company, though many operations relocated to a new office in Atlanta in 2020. The company still maintains a presence in the area.
Contact reporter Rae Johnson at RNJohnson@gannett.com. Follow them on Twitter at @RaeJ_33.
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: John Schnatter rips Papa Johns, promotes conservative values at CPAC