On July 11, 2018, news outlets reported that during a conference call with Papa Johns' marketing agency Laundry Services, Schnatter had used the word "nigger" by saying "Colonel Sanders called blacks niggers and Sanders never faced public backlash." Schnatter alleged that referencing the quote by the KFC founder was meant to convey his dislike for racism. After the call, the owner of the marketing agency moved to end their contract with Papa John's. Schnatter resigned as chairman of the board on the same day the incident was reported.
On July 26, Facebook became the first company to lose over $100 billion worth of market capitalization in one day, dropping from nearly $630 billion to $510 billion after disappointing sales reports.
On July 26, 2018, John Schnatter filed a lawsuit against Papa John's Pizza to give him access to the company's books and records after they fired him from the company after the teleconference call scandal. He describes the company's procedures as an "unexplained and heavy-handed way" to cut ties between him and the company that he founded. In addition to preventing him from accessing information, the corporation has also implemented a poison pill strategy in order to limit Schnatter's chances of buying back a majority stake in the company.