John Schnatter, the founder and CEO of Papa John’s Pizza, inadvertently made pizza political when he was overheard telling investors that the NFL’s handling of the ongoing National Anthem protest was hurting his business. And now the “Papa John” of Papa John’s is stepping down.
Schnatter, who sometimes features himself in Papa John’s commercials and is not shy about being in the public eye, blasted NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell when talking to his company’s investors in October.
“The NFL has been a long and valued partner over the years, but we are certainly disappointed that NFL and its leadership did not resolve the ongoing situation to the satisfaction of all parties. This should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago," Schnatter complained.
He continued, "The NFL has hurt us and, more importantly, by not resolving the current debacle to the [players' and owners'] satisfaction, NFL leadership has hurt Papa John's. Leadership starts at the top, and this is an example of poor leadership. The controversy is polarizing the customer, polarizing the country."
What followed was a bizarre Twitter war between Papa John’s Pizza and some its competitors after other pizza companies mocked Schnatter through social media. Then, after mounting pressure, Schnatter appeared to cave to the criticism and released an apology on Twitter.
But on Thursday, the company gave a lengthy statement announcing that long-time employee Steve Ritchie would be taking the helm as CEO. Schnatter, in turn, would simply be a company chairman. Schnatter congratulated Ritchie.
"We couldn't have a more proven leader to guide Papa John's through its next stage of growth,” the founder of the world’s third-largest pizza delivery company said.
Nowhere in the statement did the company explain why Schnatter was being replaced. The timing is strange, considering that Schnatter is 56 and did not mention that he’s retiring or give any future plans. Schnatter's net worth is around $800 million, according to AOL, down from $1 billion earlier this year.
What do you think of this? In other news, police are asking for the public’s help in finding a 14-year-old girl they believe was abducted by an armed and dangerous sex offender.