Jeffersonville returns John Schnatter's $400,000 donation for fieldhouse
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The mayor of Jeffersonville says the city has returned $400,000 gifted by John Schnatter for the renovation of a historic gymnasium.
According to Mayor Mike Moore, Schnatter, the founder of pizza giant Papa John's, had promised a donation of $800,000, but thus far had only provided $400,000 of it.
"What he has paid, we are returning," Moore said, adding that, "It's been mailed."
Speaking with reporters on Thursday, Moore said he returned the donation because of Schnatter's admitted use of the N-word during a business conference call, and added that 'the city is not for sale."
"It just doesn't feel right," Moore said. "I don't want to use it. His comments were very upsetting, to not only me, but the entire city. The Nachand Fieldhouse is a very special place, and I want people to always remember that, and I don't want the association with those comments that were made by Mr. Schnatter to be associated with this beautiful building."
“It’s not only a direct hit financially on the city of Jeff, there’s a long-time friendship there," he said. "So we were caught off guard. I guess I’m feeling some hurt, some pain, some disgust. But you know, life goes on.”
He said a big factor in his decision was a statement made by his 23-year-old daughter on Wednesday. He said he asked her for her opinion, and she gave him a succinct answer.
“She said, ‘Dad, return the money,'" he said. He added that throughout the day, he asked the opinions of others, but "Shelby’s words kept coming back to me.”
“Fifty years from now, maybe people will have a better understanding of what I’m doing. I don’t think everybody likes this idea, but unfortunately in my job I’ve got to make decisions every day. Some people like them. Some people don’t.”
Moore said he has not spoken with Schnatter.
"I tried to yesterday," he said. "Was not able to get ahold of him."
He added that Schnatter did not ask for the money back.
“I wish John well," he said. "He’s going through a very tough time for himself right now. But the city’s gonna move on. The city is not for sale. $800,000 is a large sum of money, but we’ll make do without it.”
Moore said he would be bringing the matter of the lost funds before the Jeffersonville Redevelopment Commission.
“This will put a little bit of a squeeze on us, but $800,000 is something we do have the funds for," he said.
Schnatter resigned as chairman of Papa John's and from his seat on the University of Louisville's governing board Wednesday after admitting he used a racial slur during a business conference call in May.
Schnatter's quick retreat from his prominent positions was prompted by a Forbes story that said Schnatter used the N-word during a discussion about public relations with the company's outside marketing agency.
Schnatter acknowledged the truth of the account on Wednesday and apologized in a statement issued by the company.
"News reports attributing the use of inappropriate and hurtful language to me during a media training session regarding race are true," Schnatter said. "Regardless of the context, I apologize. Simply stated, racism has no place in our society."
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