No word yet as to why Schnatter made the move, but it could have something to do with the controversy he sparked when, in true entitled white man fashion, ripped on NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem (and the league for allowing it), as he believed the gesture negatively impacted sales.
Steve Ritchie will replace Schnatter effective January 1, 2018.
Surprised at all? He did it to himself.
The company's stock price has dropped 13 percent since Schantter's comment, per the AP.
Schnatter sparked controversy in November when he slammed NFL leadership over players' kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial injustice and police brutality. Schnatter owns about 9.5 million shares of Papa John's International Inc., and his total stake was valued at more than $560 million on Thursday, according to FactSet.
He made comments to investors that "NFL leadership has hurt Papa John's shareholders" and that the protests "should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago", referring to Colin Kaepernick, 29, who started the movement while playing for the San Francisco 49ers.
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Papa John's founder John Schnatter is doing a take-out on his job as CEO. The company now operates more than 5,000 locations.
John Schnatter, founder & Pres. of a chain of Papa John's pizza restaurants, tossing dough in the air in the kitchen of one of his 1,049 outlets, as he prepares a pizza. He claimed that to insure his employees he would need to raise the costs of pizza and deliveries.
The pizza chain later apologized. He became a Papa John's franchise owner and operator in 2006.
The news of Ritchie's new role comes on the heels of a year of particularly negative press for the pizza company's brand. That's a strategy that has worked for Domino's, which takes orders from tweets, text messages and voice-activated devices, such as Amazon's Echo. Schnatter also stepped down as CEO in 2005 but returned three years later. He will be replaced by company president Steve Ritchie.
"The NFL has hurt us by not resolving the current debacle to the players' and owners' satisfaction", Schnatter said at the time.