Papa John's Founder Quits After NFL Remarks

Henrietta Strickland
December 25, 2017

Papa John's CEO John Schnatter announced that he is stepping down as CEO just several months after his controversial statements about protesting National Football League players led to accusations of racism and the official endorsement of the alt-right.

"Can i be the next CEO of papa john's? my qualifications are i'm eating chips out of the bag with a spoon because i'm full of great ideas", Twitter comedian Aparna Nancherla wrote. He will be replaced on January 1 by COO Steve Ritchie. The brand is a top sponsor and advertiser of the NFL.

Some left-wing critics have said that Schnatter's departure as CEO isn't enough to convince them to support the company given that he will remain chairman of the board.

Schnatter had blamed slowing sales growth on the outcry surrounding NFL players kneeling during the national anthem.

News that Papa John's founder John Schnatter would step down as chief executive of the pizza company sparked some popular tweets Thursday - some arguably more popular than the pizza itself.

The comments drew praise from white supremacists and the company apologized two weeks later.

Prior to backlash for his comments on the NFL, Schnatter has a history of statements that have sparked political controversey. One restaurant consultant said at a minimum it caused a distraction and he wondered if the decision was Schnatter's choice or driven by the board. The scandal started when San Francisco 49ers's former quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeled during the national anthem as a sign of protests to police violence against the blacks.

Papa John's controversial CEO and founder is stepping down. His total stake in the company is worth over $560 million.

"Schnatter, 56, founded Papa John's more than three decades ago, when he turned a broom closet at his father's bar into a pizza spot, and it has since grown to more than 5,000 locations", Chicago's largest daily noted.

Currently, Papa John's stock price is down more than 30 percent in 2017, although other factors may be involved in the decline of its shares. Experts agree that the chain's main goal should be pizza, not politics.

He has made a name for himself and his company as few in the fast food industry have.

By stressing that his pizza contained better ingredients and was better tasting, he succeeded in turning the growing chain into a nationwide force against the giants in the business Pizza Hut and Domino's.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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