Papa John's CEO Resigns After Condemning NFL Anthem Protests

Papa John's CEO Resigns After Condemning NFL Anthem Protests

Papa John's CEO Resigns After Condemning NFL Anthem Protests

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.

Last month, Schnatter stirred controversy when he blamed Papa John's falling sales and tanking stock prices on the NFL's handling of players who protest during the national anthem. "We couldn't have a more proven leader to guide Papa John's through its next stage of growth".

"We believe in the right to protest inequality and support the players' movement to create a new platform for change", the company said. After the protests damaged the reputation of the sport, Papa John's cut some of its advertising during National Football League games. Mr. Schnatter will remain as chairman of the company's board.

The popular pizza chain, known for featuring founder "Papa" John Schnatter in its commercials, announced Thursday that Schnatter will step down as CEO at the beginning of next month.

"The NFL has hurt us", Schnatter said.

Schnatter with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones
Schnatter with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones

Schnatter has always been high-profile figure in the restaurant industry. 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.

On Nov. 14, the company sent out an I'm-sorry tweet: "The statements made on our earnings call were describing the factors that impact our business and we sincerely apologize to anyone that thought they were divisive". "That definitely was not our intention", Papa John's wrote.

Schnatter is the face of the company as well and appears in marketing and images for the company.

The chain, based outside Louisville, Kentucky, says it is the third-largest pizza delivery company in the world, with some 5,000 locations.

Papa John's issued an apology after the November 1 conference call distancing itself from Schnatter's comments. "We also believe together, as Americans, we should honor our anthem".

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