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Source: Angela Weiss/ACMA2012 / Getty

NEW YORK – John Schnatter, the founder of Papa John’s, has stepped down as chief executive officer of the pizza restaurant chain, according to the company.

Schnatter is leaving his role weeks after he publicly criticized NFL leadership over national anthem protests by football players.

Schnatter triggered fierce criticism by saying the pizza chain’s sales were hurt by the NFL’s handling of the controversy over players kneeling during the national anthem to protest police violence and racial injustice.

“This should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago,” Schnatter said on a conference call with investors. “The controversy is polarizing the customer, polarizing the country.”

Steve Ritchie, 43, has been promoted to the CEO of the company.



Article Courtesy of WJW Fox 8 News Cleveland

First Picture Courtesy of Rob Kim and Getty Images

Second Picture Courtesy of Angela Weiss, ACMA2012, and Getty Images

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