Papa Johns Founder and Face of the Company Is Out as CEO After Lashing Out at NFL Kneelers

After a whirlwind of controversy, it would appear Papa Johns founder John Schnatter, has been removed from his position as CEO weeks after his comments about the NFL kneeling controversy garnered him some serious unpopularity.


Schnatter had previously blamed the NFL and Roger Goodell for his tanking pizza sales due to the NFL’s blatant lack of respect for America, and Goodell for having “poor leadership.” Schnatter’s observation may have very well been correct, but the comments generated outrage from many, who thought Schnatter’s comments were racist and blamed him for being uncaring about black communities.

As a result,  Papa Johns apologized for the comments, stating that they do believe in the right to protest. The apology didn’t seem to help, however.

According to WDRB, Schnatter is now being removed as CEO and replaced by his COO Steve Ritchie beginning next year. Schnatter will remain as chairman, however.

The company said Thursday that Schnatter remains chairman but will be replaced as chief executive by Chief Operating Officer Steve Ritchie on Jan. 1.

Schnatter had blamed slowing sales growth on the outcry surrounding NFL players kneeling during the national anthem. Papa John’s International Inc. is an NFL sponsor and advertiser. Schnatter also said at the time that customers had a negative view of the chain’s association with the NFL.

The comments drew praise from white supremacists and the company apologized two weeks later.


Ritchie would not say whether or not Schnatter’s comments were the catalyst for his removal as the pizza chain’s CEO.


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