McDonald's

Papa John's founder out as CEO weeks after blaming NFL for slow pizza sales

Papa John's founder out as CEO weeks after blaming NFL for slow pizza sales

Papa John's founder John Schnatter will step down as CEO next month, about two months after he publicly criticized the NFL leadership over national anthem protests by football 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, and is the company's biggest shareholder, remains chairman of the board.

Earlier this year, Schnatter blamed slowing sales growth at Papa John's — an NFL sponsor and advertiser — on the outcry surrounding players kneeling during the national...

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