John Schnatter, the founder of Papa John's, is stepping down as CEO of the company just two months after speaking out against NFL leadership for allowing players to kneel during the national anthem. That happened two months ago and Schnatter has since apologized for his comments.
Schnatter drew attention - and support from white supremacists - after saying in November that Papa John's sales were in a slump because the National Football League had not addressed players' protests, which were meant to draw attention to police violence and racial injustice.
Some said Papa John's sales were hit because the pizza isn't that good. The 43-year-old, who began as a Papa John's customer-service rep making $6 an hour in 1996, has been chief operating officer for the past three years.
As for Schnatter, a Jeffersonville-native, he will stay on as Chairman of the company's board of directors.
"The controversy is polarizing the customer, polarizing the country", Schnatter said during a conference call about the company's earnings on November 1.
On Thursday, the company announced that Papa John will no longer be the CEO of Papa John's.
But the company has been in hot water after Schnatter placed part of the blame on the company's lagging sales on the protests.
"In his duties as Chairman and founder, Schnatter will continue to champion the core principles that led to recognition as the industry leader in product quality and customer satisfaction", the release stated. The Louisville, Kentucky-based company distanced itself from the group, saying that it did not want them to buy their pizza. Today, the pizza chain employs approximately 23,100 employees at over 5,000 locations worldwide, according to the company website.
The stock declined as much as 4.3 percent to $56.71, the biggest intraday drop since December 6. "The focus of the brand needs to be the pizza". The pizza chain apologized for the comments in a Twitter post several weeks later. Ritchie has been with Papa John's since 2006.
"The NFL has hurt us", Schnatter said.