Papa John's CEO Resigns After Condemning NFL Anthem Protests

Papa John's founder John Schnatter who appears on the chain's commercials and pizza boxes will leave the CEO role in January 2018 weeks after he publicly criticized NFL leadership for the ongoing national anthem protests by football players

Upon making that announcement, Schnatter and Papa John's were severely dragged to the point where the company's stock plunged and it issued a public apology just two weeks later for being "divisive."

"The NFL has hurt Papa John's shareholders", said Papa John's Founder "Papa" John Schnatter during a November 1 conference call to investors.

Schnatter placed blame on slowing pizza sales on the outcry surrounding players kneeling during the national anthem.

"The NFL has hurt us", Schnatter said. Schnatter will reportedly remain with the company as its chairman, but will cede control of day-to-day business operations to Chief Operating Officer Steve Ritchie as of January 1. In 2010, he took on a co-CEO, Jude Thompson, but that arrangement ended the following year. Schnatter owns about 9.5 million shares of Papa John's International Inc., and his total stake was valued at more than $560 million on Thursday, according to FactSet. "We do not want these individuals or groups to buy our pizza". Schnatter, who founded the chain, endorsed Trump for president. That has reduced Schnatter's 9.5 million share stake in the company by almost $84 million. The pizza chain also pulled several of its planned commercials from National Football League games. Papa John's shares fell 8.5 percent in a single day during November - the biggest drop in two years - after same-store sales missed analysts' estimates.

"The NFL has hurt us by not resolving the current debacle to the players' and owners' satisfaction", Schnatter said at the time.

Almost two weeks later, Papa John's apologized in a statement on Twitter, and a spokesman further said the company condemns "racism in all forms and any and all hate groups that support it". Anyway, probably worth noting that Papa John's is the official sponsor of the NFL.

"We believe in the right to protest inequality and support the players' movement to create a new platform for change".

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.

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