Papa John's Pizza Founder Steps Down, Blamed NFL Protests For Sagging Sales

John Schnatter who founded the Papa John’s pizza chain in the 1980s is leaving the chief executive seat

The CEO of Papa John's pizza John Schnatter was replaced as CEO on Thursday, almost two months after making controversial comments that NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem were hurting the chain's bottom line.

On Thursday, Papa John's announced John Schnatter would be replaced by the company's current president, Steve Ritchie.

The move comes just months after Schnatter blamed national anthem protests by NFL players for falling pizza sales during a call to shareholders.

What made this more puzzling was that Papa John's third-quarter sales were pretty much in line during the hard period.

He also said that sales had declined because of the protests.

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Steve Ritchie will replace Schnatter effective January 1, 2018.

"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 has now decided he would step down as CEO of Papa John's, effective immediately. It's not the first time Schnatter has stepped down. Anyway, probably worth noting that Papa John's is the official sponsor of the NFL. Schnatter returned as CEO three years later.

This likely won't make Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones too happy, who backed Papa John's statement. In 2010, he took on a co-CEO, Jude Thompson, but that arrangement ended the following year. Schnatter often appears in advertisements during National Football League games, and has credited its close relationship with the National Football League and particularly quarterback Peyton Manning for sales boosts in the past. "He has excelled at every job he's ever held at Papa John's - from being an hourly customer service rep, to a delivery driver, store general manager, director of operations, franchisee and most recently President".

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