Papa John's founder out as CEO weeks after National Football League comments

Papa John's founder out as CEO weeks after National Football League comments

Schnatter triggered fierce criticism by saying the pizza chain's sales were hurt by the NFL's handling of the controversy over players kneeling during the national anthem to protest police violence and racial injustice.

Ritchie, 43, has been a longtime employee with Papa John's.

John Schnatter, the founder and CEO of Papa John's, has a reported net worth of approximately $75 million. Schnatter, 56, is still the company's largest shareholder and will continue to serve as chairman of the board.

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"Leadership starts at the top, and this is an example of poor leadership", Schnatter said in a call with investors.

Weeks later, after neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer declared Papa John's "the official pizza of the alt-right", the company issued a statement asking members of hate groups to not buy its pizza.

John Schnatter founded the chain in the 1980s and will stay on as its chairman, but leave the other seat on January 1.

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In his 2017 book "Papa: The Story of Papa John's Pizza", Schnatter argued that regulations are steering the USA away from the system of free enterprise he believes is crucial to the nation's success.

Competitors, like Pizza Hut, quickly distanced themselves by saying the National Football League anthem protests, started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, was playing no role in their sales. Same-store sales were actually in the green at 1 percent growth, year-over-year.

On Nov. 14, the company sent out an I'm-sorry tweet: "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". It's not the first time Schnatter has stepped down. In 2010, he took on a co-CEO, Jude Thompson, but that arrangement ended the following year.

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