More than a year after reports surfaced of Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter using the n-word, the successful entrepreneur has stepped down from the company that he founded and remained mostly out of the spotlight. On Wednesday (Sept. 4), Schnatter resurfaced to announce a $1 million donation to Simmons College of Kentucky, the state’s only private historically black college.
“My life’s work is to help make other people’s lives better,” Schnatter said while speaking at the college. “One way for us to do better is to support black-led institutions that inspire overlook[ed] and disadvantaged communities.
“Historical black colleges and universities have been critical in moving America — this great country the great people — forward,” he continued before sharing a few HBCU statistics. The longtime Kentucky resident went on to note that his business success has been a “blessing.”
“It’s been a real gift from God to be a leader in this community. I’m humbled to give back, it’s something my parents and grandparents taught me from a very early age. I feel it’s important to give resources to those who want it, need it, value it and will use it for honorable and principal centered causes.”
Rev. Kevin Cosby, president of SCK, and Mark Lynn, the college’s board of trustees chairman, were happy to accept the hefty donation, but others like Rev. Gerome Sutton accused Schnatter of having an ulterior motive.
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what’s going on. [Schnatter] is trying to pay off the black community with 30 pieces of silver,” said Sutton, a graduate of Simmons and former member of the board of trustees who protested against Papa John’s amid the n-word controversy.
Schnatter resigned as CEO of Papa John’s amid backlash for using the n-word during a conference call about preventing public relations mistakes. Though Schnatter maintained that his words were taken out of context, he issued a public apology stating in part, “Racism has no place in our society.”
The Indiana native has also made news for his controversial remarks against NFL players protesting police brutality and racial injustice, contributions to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, and two sexual misconduct and harassment cases both of which ended in confidential financial settlements in 1999 and 2009 respectively.
Watch Schnatter’s $1 million announcement below.