Papa John's Founder John Schnatter Exits as CEO

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The founder and CEO of Papa John's Pizza, John Schattner, is stepping down from his position, the company announced on Thursday.

The company said Chief Operating Officer Steve Ritchie will succeed Schnatter, who is also the chairman of the board.

Schnatter is leaving his role weeks after he publicly criticized NFL leadership over national anthem protests by football players. Anyway, probably worth noting that Papa John's is the official sponsor of the NFL.

"The controversy is polarizing the customer, polarizing the country", Schnatter said during a conference call about the company's earnings on November 1.

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Prior to backlash for his comments on the NFL, Schnatter has a history of statements that have sparked political controversy.

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

In his 2017 book "Papa: The Story of Papa John's Pizza", Schnatter argued that regulations are steering the United States away from the system of free enterprise he believes is crucial to the nation's success. "This should've been nipped in the bud a year-and-a-half ago". "We condemn racism in all forms and any and all hate groups that support it".

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".

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The company's stock price has dropped 13 percent since Schantter's comment, per the AP.

This is not the first time that Schnatter has stepped down as CEO.

Ritchie has been with Papa John's since 2006. He removed himself from the gig in 2005 before returning in 2008. "He has excelled at every job he's ever held at Papa John's - from being an hourly customer service rep, to a delivery driver, store general manager, director of operations, franchisee and most recently President".

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