MLB pauses Papa John's promotion until after All-Star break, pizza company says

Major League Baseball’s promotion with Papa John’s has been "paused" until after the All-Star break, the company confirmed to Fox News on Friday.

MLB’s “Papa Slam” promotion gave people discounts on pizza when players hit grand slams. The promotion was "paused" after CEO John Schnatter resigned in the wake of racial remarks.

Schnatter's controversial comment came during a role-playing exercise during a May conference call, which itself was organized in the wake of his comments concerning the NFL, and placing blame on the league’s national anthem protests for the company’s sales, Forbes reported.

During the call, he reportedly said "Colonel Sanders called blacks n------" and never faced backlash.

Other MLB teams that had promotions with Papa John’s started to distance themselves from the company Thursday since team campaigns operate independently from the league.


The Washington Nationals became the sixth team on Friday to suspend promotional deals with the company, according to The Washington Post. The team said in a statement they “do not condone discrimination of any kind.”

The Miami Marlins, Kansas City Royals, Baltimore Orioles, Tampa Bay Rays, Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees also announced they were going to suspend their relationships with Papa John’s.

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

The Royals said they were going to “reassess” their relationship with the company during the all-star break, according to KCTV.

The New York Yankees released a statement Friday afternoon, saying “In response to the reprehensible remarks made by Papa John’s founder and owner, the New York Yankees are suspending their relationship with the company.”

Schnatter also allegedly stated that, in his home state of Indiana, “people used to drag African-Americans from trucks until they died,” reportedly intending for the sentiment to convey his opposition to racism.

Schnatter apologized for the remarks Wednesday. “News reports attributing the use of inappropriate and hurtful language to me during a media training session regarding race are true,” he said in a statement released by Papa John’s. “Regardless of the context, I apologize. Simply stated, racism has no place in our society.”

Schnatter originally stepped down as Papa John’s CEO in December 2017, after claiming that the NFL’s handing of player protests contributed to the company’s third-quarter earnings slump. Papa John’s ended its official sponsorship of the NFL in February 2018.

Fox News' Michael Bartiromo and Janine Puhak contributed to this report.