The Mariners joined a growing list of MLB teams to suspend their promotions for discounted pizzas at Papa John's following a use of a racial slur by the founder, John Schnatter.
The Mariners have suspended their relationship with Papa John’s indefinitely, the club confirmed to The Seattle Times on Friday, joining a growing list of MLB organizations to sever ties with the pizza company after the news of its founder’s use of a racial slur during a company phone call.
“Mr. Schnatter’s comments were offensive and inexcusable,” the club said in a statement provided to The Times. “They do not in any way represent what we stand for at the Seattle Mariners. As a result, we have indefinitely suspended our relationship with Papa John’s.”
The club made no formal announcement but broke the news on Twitter responding to a tweet inquiry.
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The club partnered with Papa John’s to offer fans 50 percent off the day after the Mariners score five or more runs. The suspension means they will cease all promotion of the deal, including signs around Safeco Field as well as advertising on the radio and online.
John Schnatter, the company’s namesake and founder, resigned as chairman following a Forbes report Wednesday that he used the N-word on a company conference call. Its purpose, according to Forbes, was to “prevent further public-relations snafus.” Schnatter, who confirmed the accuracy of the report to Forbes, was reportedly complaining about Colonel Sanders having never faced backlash, even though “Colonel Sanders called black” the N-word.
It’s just the latest in Schnatter’s fall. He resigned as CEO in December for criticizing NFL players’ protests during the national anthem. On Wednesday, he resigned from the University of Louisville’s board of trustees. Louisville also on Friday announced it would remove the Papa John’s name from its football stadium.
A Seahawks spokesman also said Friday that the team will have no further relationship with Papa John’s after having had a partnership with the pizza company for several years.
But the Seahawks said finding a new pizza partner has been in the works since March and that the decision was not related to this week’s events.
The Seahawks’ search for a new pizza partner came shortly after the NFL and Papa John’s announced in late February that the company would no longer be the official pizza of the NFL.
“The NFL and Papa John’s have made a mutual decision to shift from their official league sponsorship to a focus on partnerships with 22 local NFL teams, presence in broadcast and digital media, and key personalities in the sport,” the league and company said in a joint statement Feb. 27. Papa John’s had been the official pizza of the NFL since 2010.
The NFL then announced a day later that Pizza Hut would be the league’s new official pizza, a deal reportedly lasting through the 2021 season.
The Seahawks are expected to announce a new official pizza either during or shortly before training camp begins July 26.
Papa John’s partnership with the Seahawks last year included a promotion in which all fans received 50 percent off their entire online order the day after any Seahawks victory.
This week, the Tampa Bay Rays and Miami Marlins were the first MLB teams to publicly end their relationships with Papa John’s. The Marlins released a statement Thursday, and the Tampa Bay Times reported the Rays news. The Royals, Nationals, Yankees and Orioles have since joined, too.
“Mr. Schnatter’s derogatory and insensitive comments are not at all reflective of the values of our organization,” the Marlins said in their statement. The Nationals “do not condone discrimination of any kind,” they said in theirs.
Both the league and other teams in it have various promotional relationships with Papa John’s. MLB has featured the “Papa Slam” promotion since 2016, allowing fans to get 40 percent off a pizza order after a player hits a grand slam. But Yahoo! reported it also suspended the promotion after the Forbes report.
Few teams known to have deals with Papa John’s appear to still have them. The Chicago White Sox are one — their fans can get 50 percent off when the White Sox win. According to NBC Chicago, they will continue the promotion.