Papa John’s CEO Steps Down After Saying NFL National Anthem Protest Hurt Sales

John Schnatter is not going to be the CEO of Papa John’s any longer, according to a statement released by the company. The announcement comes after John blamed the NFL’s handling of the national anthem protests as a reason why sales had gone down for Papa John’s.

“The NFL has hurt us. We are disappointed the NFL and its leadership did not resolve this,” he said in November.

Papa John’s is an official sponsor of the NFL, and John remains its biggest shareholder.

“We couldn’t have a more proven leader to guide Papa John’s through its next stage of growth,” John said of Steve Ritchie, who will take over on January 1.

John’s comments seemed to come across as tone deaf, with many people saying he cared more about sales than the meaning behind the protests: “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,” the franchise wrote on Twitter at the time.

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