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Papa John's founder steps down after blaming anthem protests for slumping sales

23 December 2017

John Schnatter, the founder of Papa John's, has stepped down as chief executive officer of the pizza restaurant chain, according to the company.

In their third quarter earnings call, Papa John's CEO John Schnatter claimed that the ongoing National Football League protests have affected his company's earnings, and that they will be pulling some of their advertising associated with the NFL.

And in the wake of his remarks - for which the company tried to apologize almost two weeks later - the white supremacist website Daily Stormer floated the idea that Papa John's was the "official pizza of the alt-right".

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The AP reports that Ritchie did not comment on whether the controversy over Schnatter's comments were part of the reason for this move, saying only that now is "the right time to make this change".

Schnatter, 56, founded Papa John's in 1984.

Papa John's stock closed at $59.23, down 2 cents or 0.03 per cent on Thursday. "We are disappointed the NFL and its leadership did not resolve this", referring to the USA national anthem protests. "This should have been nipped in the bud a year-and-a-half ago. We do not want these individuals or groups to buy our pizza", the company said in their November 5 statement. But the comments and negative sentiment sent shares dropping by as much as 13 percent the day the news broke.

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And Schnatter himself has said goodbye to the CEO gig before. The CEO announcement was made after the market has closed. Schnatter returned as CEO three years later.

The drop in viewership of the NFL has caused Papa John's to re-evaluate their NFL Sponsorship altogether. He also added a co-CEO, Jude Thompson, in 2010 before ending the arrangement a year later. "We couldn't have a more proven leader to guide Papa John's through its next stage of growth".

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Papa John's founder steps down after blaming anthem protests for slumping sales