Papa John’s CEO Steps Down Amid Controversial Comments About NFL Protests


After a month of media blunders about the NFL protests, Papa John’s founder John Schnatter has stepped down from his position as CEO of the company.

USA Today reports Thursday (Dec. 21) Schnatter will remain with the company as chairman with President Steve Ritchie taking the title of CEO. As the third biggest pizza chain in the nation, Schnatter recently shared his feelings about the NFL following a report of declining sales. The company is a large sponsor for the NFL.

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“The NFL has hurt us by not resolving the current debacle to the players’ and owners’ satisfaction,” Schnatter said on a conference call Nov.1. “NFL leadership has hurt Papa John’s shareholders.” He also leaned towards a more conservative view of Colin Kaepernick’s protest of police brutality by way of kneeling during the national anthem.

“We’re certainly disappointed that the NFL and its leadership did not resolve the ongoing situation to the satisfaction of all parties long ago,” Schnatter added. “This should’ve been nipped in the bud a year-and-a-half ago.”

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His comments sparked backlash and inadvertently a wave of support from white supremacists, leading to several apologies and a swift disapproval of racism from Schnatter. “The statements made on our earnings call were describing the factors that impact our business and we sincerely apologize to anyone that thought they were divisive,” the company tweeted.

Schnatter founded the company in 1984 after turning a broom closet in his father’s tavern into a pizza station. The company later became a huge success with Schnatter also turning into a pop culture staple for his commercials.

Schnatter will officially step down from his position as CEO effective January 1, 2018.

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