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

The 56-year-old heavily criticized NFL for allowing players to take a knee during National Anthem protests and even blamed them for causing a slump in his pizza sales.

Schnatter has stepped down as CEO before in 2005 after a period of declining sales at the company, then returned three years later. But the spokesman, Peter Collins, said that it was the right time for Steve Ritchie, 43, the company's president and chief operating officer, to become the next chief executive. Schnatter's decision to relinquish the role may come as a surprise to those who recognize him as "Papa John" in the chain's promotions.

The company's stock is down a whopping 13 percent his he made his polarizing player protest comments. A press release from the company said he would "pursue his personal passion for entrepreneurship, leadership development, and education". No immediate reason was given for his decision, which takes effect January 1.

John Schnatter, founder of Papa John's pizza restaurants, in pool w. his trainer, doing stretches during workout at home. "That definitely was not our intention", Papa John's wrote.

Apparently, Schnatter believed that the controversy over national anthem protests during football games led people to watch football and eat pizza less.

Schnatter's comments, which some claimed he was goaded into by his friend, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, as a way to increase pressure on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, caused an uproar upon delivery.

Papa John's issued an apology after the November 1 conference call distancing itself from Schnatter's comments. After Schnatter's comments, white supremacists vowed to make Papa John's the official pizza of the so-called alt-right. "That definitely was not our intention", the company said on Twitter.

He also added that the protests "should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago". "We also believe together, as Americans, we should honor our anthem".

  • Rogelio Becker