The Associated Press reports:
Papa John’s founder John Schnatter will step down as CEO next month, about two months after he criticized the NFL leadership over national anthem protests by players — comments for which the company later apologized.
Schnatter will be replaced as chief executive by Chief Operating Officer Steve Ritchie on Jan. 1, the company announced Thursday. Schnatter, who appears in the chain’s commercials and on its pizza boxes, remains chairman of the board. He is also the company’s biggest shareholder.
Earlier this year, Schnatter blamed slowing sales growth at Papa John’s — an NFL sponsor and advertiser — on the outcry surrounding football players kneeling during the national anthem. Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick had kneeled during the anthem to protest what he said was police mistreatment of black men, and other players started kneeling as well.
Last month a neo-Nazi site named Papa John’s their “official pizza” because of Schnatter’s anti-NFL rants.