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

23 December, 2017, 02:01 | Author: Carmen Reese
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Papa John's founder and CEO John Schnatter will step down as CEO next month only weeks after making controversial statements about National Football League players and their right to protest.

Ritchie, 43, began his career with the pizza chain in 1996 as a customer service representative and slowly worked his way up, eventually becoming a franchisee owner in 2006.

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.

"This should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago", Schnatter said on a conference call with investors in November.

Schnatter will be replaced as chief executive by Chief Operating Officer Steve Ritchie on January 1, the company announced Thursday.

More news: New Twitter policies targeting abuse, hate groups lead to crackdown

The man who built an empire serving mediocre at best pizza (yeah, I said it) is stepping down. He is being replaced as CEO by company president Steve Ritchie.

Schnatter isn't the first founder to step away recently from CEO duties at the company he built from scratch. Schnatter, who is the company's biggest shareholder, will remain chairman of the board.

The comments drew praise from white supremacists and the company apologized two weeks later. According to a press release from the company, he will "pursue his personal passion for entrepreneurship, leadership development and education". The founder previously stepped down in 2005, after a period of declining sales at the company.

In 1983, Schnatter sold his Chevy Camaro to help his father's struggling business and used the leftover profits to start Papa John's. Schnatter announced his decision when the market closed. Schnatter returned as CEO three years later.

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