Papa John's CEO Steps Down Weeks After Blaming NFL for Poor Sales

He will be replaced by the company’s current president on January 1
papa john's
Papa John's

Papa John Schnatter has left the building. The pizza delivery chain’s founder and CEO recently faced backlash after he publicly blamed poor sales on NFL protests, which awkwardly inserted the brand into the political discussion and led to its adoption by some white nationalists as the “official pizza of the alt-right.” The 56-year-old will be replaced by the Papa John’s president Steve Ritchie, who’s been with the company for 21 years.

Schnatter will remain with the chain as chairman to “continue to champion the core principles that led to recognition as the industry leader in product quality and customer satisfaction,” according to a release.

"I am so proud of Steve — 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," Schnatter said in a release. "With 120,000 Papa John's corporate and franchise employees, Steve will put the spotlight on our pizza and the most important ingredient — our team members. We couldn't have a more proven leader to guide Papa John's through its next stage of growth."

For more on the Kentucky-based pizza brand, here are 9 things you didn’t know about Papa John’s.

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