Papa John’s says its founder John Schnatter will step down as CEO next month. The move comes about two months after he publicly criticized the NFL leadership over the national anthem protests started by Colin Kaepernick. Schnatter had blamed slowing sales growth on the outcry surrounding NFL players kneeling during the national anthem. Papa John’s International Inc. is an NFL sponsor and advertiser. Schnatter also said that customers had developed a negative view of the chain’s association with the NFL.
White supremacists loved it and ate it up, saying that Papa John’s would be the official pizza of their twisted movement. The company quickly apologized and tried to distance themselves from the hateful rhetoric. But that, coupled with Schnatter’s conservative views and his support of Donald Trump, made things worse.
The company said that Schnatter remains chairman but will be replaced as chief executive by Chief Operating Officer Steve Ritchie on January 1st.