Papa John's Racist Voicemail: Pizza Chain's CEO Apologizes to Customer

Tuesday, 28 May 2013 08:24 AM

By Megan Anderle

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The chairman and CEO of Papa John's, John Schnatter, apologized to a Florida customer Monday for a racist rant a delivery man mistakenly left on his voicemail Sunday night.

The delivery man accidentally "butt dialed" the Sanford customer after delivering pizza to his home, leaving a voicemail laden with racial slurs as he complained about his tip, ABC News reported.

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The customer posted a video on YouTube in which he showed the pizza delivery receipt and said he and his wife tipped 21 percent, "as usual."

The customer played the four-minute voicemail message in which the Papa John's employee complains to another Papa John's employee about his $5 tip. The employee uses several expletives, including the N-word, which he also incorporated into a song about the customer.

"I guess that's the only requirement for being a [insert N-word] in Sanford," the delivery man said in the message. "Yeah, they give me five bucks there -- fine outstanding African-American gentleman of the community."

His fellow co-worker laughed at the remarks.

Sanford is the same city where Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old African, was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch coordinator, in February 2012, and racial tensions are still high in the area.

Schnatter posted an apology on Papa John's Facebook page on Monday afternoon.

"Friends, I am extremely concerned to learn about the reprehensible language used by two former employees in one of our restaurants," he wrote. "Their thinking and actions defy both my personal and the company's values, and everything for which this company stands."

Schnatter said the employees "responsible for this absolutely unacceptable behavior were immediately terminated."

"My heartfelt apology goes out to the customer involved, his family and our community at large. I am very sorry that anyone would be exposed to these hurtful and painful words by any person involved in any way with our company," Schnatter said.

A call to Papa John's by ABC News was not immediately returned.

Many Facebook users applauded Schnatter's apology.

"It is refreshing to see a CEO take responsibility and do the right thing, thanks so much, you are a great example," one user wrote.

"My opinion of this company just went up 150%," another wrote.

This isn't the first controversy involving racism the chain has faced. In January 2012, a customer was described on a paper receipt as "Lady Chink Eyes" by a Papa John's employee in New York City, according to ABC News.

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