The man behind the Papa John’s Pizza brand, founder John Schnatter, will step down as CEO of the company after controversial comments he made about protests by NFL players.
According to NPR Schnatter will step down Jan. 1 and be replaced by company COO Steve Ritchie, but will remain chairman of the board.
Schnatter drew controversy when he blamed NFL players’ National Anthem protests of police brutality for a drop in their stock. During a third-quarter earnings call Schnatter said NFL leadership was doing his shareholders a disservice by “not resolving the current debacle (of the take-a-knee protests) to the player and owners’ satisfaction.”
Papa John’s is an NFL sponsor, and the comments drew widespread criticism – along with praise from white supremacist groups. The company distanced itself from Schnatter’s comments, and told the white supremacists to buy their pizza elsewhere. Papa John’s value also dropped, with a 13 percent tank between the day Schnatter made the comments and the present.
Schnatter’s image is used in marketing and commercials, as well as on top of pizza boxes. The company said they do not plan to change that.