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Papa Johns CEO out after echoing Trump's attacks on black NFL players

Papa Johns founder and CEO John Schnatter lined himself up with Donald Trump’s attacks on black NFL players — and now he’s paying the price. With the company’s stock tumbling, Schnatter announced Thursday night that he will be leaving his position as the pizza chain’s head honcho. In November, Schnatter said that ongoing protests against police […]

By Oliver Willis - December 21, 2017
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John Schnatter of Papa Johns
John Schnatter, soon to be the former CEO of Papa Johns.

Papa Johns founder and CEO John Schnatter lined himself up with Donald Trump’s attacks on black NFL players — and now he’s paying the price. With the company’s stock tumbling, Schnatter announced Thursday night that he will be leaving his position as the pizza chain’s head honcho.

In November, Schnatter said that ongoing protests against police brutality in the NFL were hurting the league’s ratings, and claimed it was trickling down onto sponsors like his company. Schnatter whined that the protests “should have been nipped in the bud” by the league, ignoring the serious concerns of the organization, where 68 percent of the players are black.

There was almost immediate blowback to his position, which echoed Donald Trump’s attacks on the NFL. Much like Trump, Schnatter used his high-profile Twitter account to repeatedly lash out at the league and demand that it sanction players who knelt in peaceful acts of protest.

His actions were endearing to white supremacists, who declared that Papa Johns was the “official pizza of the alt-right.”

The company eventually apologized for Schnatter’s behavior and issued a public condemnation of the neo-Nazis who embraced them as a result.

But the damage was done.

Shares in Papa Johns are down from a price of $87 a year ago to $59 today — and now, he is out of a job.

Schnatter, a conservative who donated to Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016, is no stranger to political controversy. In 2012, he attacked Obamacare and claimed that providing health insurance would drive up the cost of pizzas. Like his more recent comments about the NFL, Schnatter’s remarks about Obamacare were followed by a drop in share prices.

He also complained about regulations on business under the Obama administration, saying, “America in 2016 is on the path to becoming what Germany was in 1867,” which was the year his grandfather came to the U.S. to seek freedom from government oppression.

He also argued, “You’ve got to have free markets with limited government, with the proper amount of regulation where you don’t jam entrepreneurship.”

While Schnatter repeatedly — and loudly — whined about President Obama’s policies, Papa Johns’ stock prices saw an increase of more than 600 percent during the Obama administration.

Now, after hitching himself to Trump, he’s out of the top job.


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