Papa John's founder John Schnatter steps down as company's CEO

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Almost two months after pizza chain Papa John's apologized for comments its CEO made about NFL players' pre-game national anthem protests, the company announced that the chief executive is being replaced.

And in the wake of his remarks - for which the company tried to apologize almost two weeks later - the white supremacist website Daily Stormer floated the idea that Papa John's was the "official pizza of the alt-right".

"And more importantly, by not resolving the current debacle to the player and owners' satisfaction, National Football League leadership has hurt Papa John's shareholders", Schnatter said during the company's third-quarter earnings call on November 1.

"The NFL has hurt us", Schnatter said.

Schnatter will be replaced as chief executive by Chief Operating Officer Steve Ritchie on January 1, the company announced Thursday.

The founder also cited this figure when he slammed "immoral" executive salaries in a 2017 interview with Business Insider."I haven't taken a raise probably in two, three, four years", Schnatter said in the interview. "We couldn't have a more proven leader to guide Papa John's through its next stage of growth". The Louisville, Kentucky-based company distanced itself from the group, saying that it did not want them to buy their pizza. Schnatter, who appears in company commercials, will remain as chairman of the board.

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The company's stock is down 30 percent since the beginning of the year. "He will also pursue his personal passion for entrepreneurship, leadership development and education". Papa John's shares fell 8.5 percent in a single day during November - the biggest drop in two years - after same-store sales missed analysts' estimates.

Forbes' numbers don't account for Papa John's recent sales slump - nor for Schnatter's controversial comments response last November. Anyway, probably worth noting that Papa John's is the official sponsor of the NFL.

"The NFL has hurt us", Schnatter said.

Almost two weeks later, Papa John's apologized in a statement on Twitter, and a spokesman further said the company condemns "racism in all forms and any and all hate groups that support it".

"We believe in the right to protest inequality and support the players' movement to create a new platform for change". Ritchie has been with Papa John's since 2006.

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