Nationals suspend ties with Papa John’s after founder’s use of racial slur

WASHINGTON — The Washington Nationals have suspended their relationship with Papa John’s days after founder John Schnatter resigned as chairman of the company’s board.

The baseball team joined several other MLB franchises to condemn Schnatter’s comments and suspend promotions, saying the team does not “condone discrimination of any kind.”

Participating area Papa John’s stores had offered 50 percent off pizza orders the day after a Nats win.

A team spokesperson said in a statement that there will be no more partnership for now with the Kentucky-based company, but that the team remains “supportive of our local operators who have been fantastic partners for more than eleven years.”

The company announced Wednesday that Schnatter had resigned, hours after he apologized for using a racial slur during a May conference call. Forbes reported that Schnatter used the N-word during a media training exercise. When asked how he would distance himself from racist groups, Schnatter reportedly complained that Colonel Sanders never faced a backlash for using the word.

In a statement released by Papa John’s, Schnatter said reports attributing use of “inappropriate and hurtful” language to him were true. “Regardless of the context, I apologize,” the statement says.

Schnatter stepped down as CEO last year after blaming slowing sales growth on the outcry surrounding football players kneeling during the national anthem. The NFL announced it was ending a partnership with the company earlier this year.

Several MLB teams announced they would cut ties with the company, including the Miami Marlins and Seattle Mariners.

The Marlins posted a statement on Twitter saying the team is committed to an inclusive environment for all of its fans, and would suspend all promotions it had with the company.

“Mr. Schnatter’s derogatory and insensitive comments are not at all reflective of the value of our organization,” the Marlins’ statement said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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