The Atlanta Braves have suspended further promotions with national pizza chain Papa John’s in the wake of reports that the restaurant’s founder used a racial slur.
“Like Major League Baseball, the Braves immediately suspended all Papa John’s activations indefinitely on Wednesday evening,” said Beth Marshall, Braves spokesperson, in a response to the Marietta Daily Journal’s inquiry into the matter Friday after media reports cited similar moves from other Atlanta market teams.
She added the team had not previously announced the change.
The moves from the Braves and other athletic organizations, including Atlanta United FC and the Atlanta Falcons, come after Forbes reported that John Schnatter, the pizza chain’s founder, used the N-word during a conference call in May. Schnatter apologized and said he would resign as chairman.
Schnatter had used the slur during a media training exercise, Forbes reported. When asked how he would distance himself from racist groups, Schnatter reportedly complained that Colonel Sanders never faced a backlash for using the word. Schnatter subsequently issued a statement acknowledging the use of “inappropriate and hurtful” language.
The Braves’ promotion with the chain allowed fans to claim 50 percent off their Papa John’s order the day after a game where the team scored five or more runs.
Major League Baseball also indefinitely suspended its promotion with Papa John’s that offered people discounts at the pizza chain after a player hit a grand slam.
Schnatter, who has been used as the face of the pizza chain in logos and TV ads, was off at least some of the restaurant’s materials by late morning Friday, though the company said the details and exact timing for everything were still being worked out. The pizza chain said there are no plans to change its name.
News Friday also broke that the University of Louisville would be removing Papa John’s name from its Cardinal Stadium and that it would rename the John H. Schnatter Center for Free Enterprise at its business college. Earlier in the week, the school said Schnatter resigned from its board of trustees.
— Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.