Papa Johns apologizes for national anthem protest comments

Papa John's CEO to step down after NFL protest comments

Papa John's founder John Schnatter will step down as CEO next month, about two months after he publicly criticized the NFL leadership over national anthem protests by football players - comments for which the company later apologized.

Ritchie, 43, has been a longtime employee with Papa John's. Papa John's is a major sponsor of the NFL, and Schnatter claimed the company's relationship with the league caused angry fans to boycott the chain. "This should've been nipped in the bud a year-and-a-half ago".

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

He said the practice of players kneeling during the anthem to raise awareness of police brutality and social injustice hurt the NFL's TV ratings, which in turn hurt sales of his pizza, which is advertised heavily during games.

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Schnatter has now decided he would step down as CEO of Papa John's, effective immediately. After these comments were made, the alt-right and white supremacists declared Papa John's their official pizza.

In 1983, Schnatter sold his Chevy Camaro to help his father's struggling business and used the leftover profits to start Papa John's. "We do not want these individuals or groups to buy our pizza", the company said in their November 5 statement. It's not the first time Schnatter has stepped down.

"You've got to have free markets with limited government, with the proper amount of regulation where you don't jam entrepreneurship", Schnatter said. Schnatter returned as CEO three years later. He also added a co-CEO, Jude Thompson, in 2010 before ending the arrangement a year later. "By focusing on our team members, we will deliver the world class experiences our customers deserve". Whether Schnatter will continue as spokesman has not been decided, Ritchie said.

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