john schnatter november 2019

John Schnatter, interviewed in November 2019 (WDRB News)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Papa John’s International founder John Schnatter’s wife, Annette, filed for divorce on Thursday, saying in court records that her 32-year marriage to the pizza mogul is “irretrievably broken."

M. Annette Cox’s divorce petition, filed in family court in Oldham County, Ky., says that Cox, 59, and Schnatter, 57, have been separated since April 1.

Neither Schnatter's spokespeople nor Cox's lawyer responded to requests for comment.

In a same-day response filed Thursday, Schnatter confirmed that he and his wife have reached a settlement regarding their assets, indicating that the divorce is not contested.

Schnatter, the former longtime CEO of Papa John’s and chairman of its board, had his life turned upside down last year when the company shunned him following his admitted use of racial language, which Schnatter says was taken out of context.

Schnatter on Thursday separately sued the ad agency that he says taped a May 2018 call in which he used the "N" word and then “maliciously” leaked it to the press in an effort to “bury” him. Schnatter, however, apologized in the days following the reporting of the remark and acknowledged that he should not have said it, regardless of the context.

Schnatter’s marital problems coincided with a major selloff in his Papa John’s shares.

Regulatory filings show he has sold about $322 million in stock, reducing his stake in the company from about 30% to about 10%, beginning in May 2019.

In an interview last month, Schnatter told WDRB that the stock sales reflected his pessimistic outlook for the company, which he claims is “mismanaged.”

Schnatter also testified in court in Delaware in October 2018 that he had confidentiality agreements with at least two women, according to press reports, but the testimony didn’t reveal what those agreements were about.

Schnatter and Cox have two adult children, according to the divorce filing.

They jointly own a mansion in Anchorage, an affluent eastern Jefferson County suburb, which they built in 1997. Assessed at $11.2 million for taxes, the home is among the most valuable in the county.

The divorce petition lists a different eastern Jefferson County address for Cox.  

Reach reporter Chris Otts at 502-585-0822,, on Twitter or on Facebook. Copyright 2019 WDRB Media. All rights reserved.