Papa John’s founder and CEO steps down amid NFL controversy

The CEO and founder of Papa John’s, known for his frequent appearance in the pizza chain’s television ads, announced Thursday he will step down from his position. A company statement indicated he will “pursue his personal passion for entrepreneurship, leadership development and education.”

John Schnatter has been a very public, and often controversial, representative for his own brand.

Most recently, he faced backlash after his criticism of the NFL and its handling of the player protests. His outspokenness earned Papa John’s a dubious distinction as the “official pizza of the alt right” by the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website.

Schnatter has previously expressed his partisan stances on divisive issues including the Affordable Care Act and government regulation.

Steve Ritchie, the company’s current president, is slated to replace him, according to Business Insider.

Schnatter will retain his status as board chairman when he resigns as CEO in January. He similarly stepped down in 2005, coming back on as CEO three years later.

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