He added: 'Regardless of the context, I apologise'. "Simply stated, racism has no place in our society".
That may not seem like a huge deal to you or us, but to Schnatter, that's everything - the pizza company is headquartered in Louisville, and Papa John is a MAJOR donor to their athletic programs.
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Per Forbes, Schnatter responded to a question about distancing himself from racist trolls by pointing out that "Colonel Sanders [of Kentucky Fried Chicken] called blacks n---s".
Forbes reported that Mr Schnatter was on a conference call with Laundry Service, a marketing agency, and used the racially-sensitive slur while participating in a role-play exercise on how to avoid public relations crises.
The chairman, J. David Grissom, said: "After speaking with John, I'm confident that his comments, while inappropriate, do not reflect his personal beliefs or values".
The May conference call was with Schnatter and marketing agency Laundry Service.
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Louisville plays its home games at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, but players are pushing for a name change. Schnatter was eventually forced to step down as CEO, but he remained chairman of the board and the face of the brand.
Papa John's shares, which fell almost 5 percent on Wednesday, were up 12 percent on Thursday.
A request for comment from Papa John's was not immediately returned to Fox News.
He came under fire in 2012 for saying the Affordable Care Act, the healthcare law better known as Obamacare, would be a "lose-lose" for Papa John's franchisees and employees.
The NFL anthem comments did reportedly gain support from the US's far-right, however, inspiring American neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer to proclaim Papa John's the official pizza of the so-called "alt-right"- a political movement which has been accused of racism and anti-Semitism.
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