The man who has been the public face of Papa John's Pizza -- founder and former CEO John Schnatter -- resigned as chairman of the board, following outrage over the use of a racial slur on a conference call.
The company said Olivia Kirtley will act as lead independent director, and added it would appoint a new chairman in the coming weeks.
The resignation comes after Forbes reported that Schnatter used an offensive term with a marketing agency during a media training session on race.
On the call, Schnatter -- who was forced to step down as CEO in January -- was trying to downplay his earlier comments that the NFL's handling of national anthem protests by players had led to the weak pizza sales.
He complained that "Colonel Sanders" had said much worse in the past without facing a public backlash.
Schnatter also reportedly recalled growing up in Indiana, where he said people used to drag African Americans from their trucks until they died.
Forbes saying the comments were intended to demonstrate his position against racism, but people on the call were offended.
On Wednesday, the company went into damage control, issuing a statement saying: "Papa John's condemns racism and any insensitive language, no matter the situation or setting." And in an emailed statement to Forbes, Schnatter confirmed the allegations and said: "Regardless of the context, I apologize." But it may take a lot more than apologies to boost the company's stock - which lost nearly 5 percent of its value Wednesday.