Papa John's Pizza founder John Schnatter will be stepping down as the company's CEO in the new year after making controversial statements about the NFL.

The company announced Thursday that Schnatter would be stepping down as CEO in January, but would remain as the Chairman of the Board. Schnatter came under fire in November after making comments during a conference call, blaming the company's falling sales on the leadership of the NFL for allowing the national anthem protests,

NFL leadership has hurt Papa John's shareholders. This should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago.

Schnatter, who donated to Trump's presidential campaign, also said that he believes the public had a negative view of the company's sponsorship and advertising relationship with the league. Schnatter's comments resulted in public support from white supremacist groups, with Papa John's making a public apology for Schnatter's comments, The company has not confirmed what part, if any, Schnatter's comments played in the decision for him to step down.

Chief Operating Officer Steve Ritchie will be replacing Schnatter as CEO on January 1st. A 21-year employee with the company, Ritchie started making pizzas and answering phones at a local franchise, becoming a franchise owner 11 years ago, now owning nine locations.

CBS News reports that Papa John's stock is down 30% from the beginning of the year. Schnatter's stake at nearly 9.5 million shares is now valued at $560 million. The company said they will also decide in the new year if Schnatter will remain as the company's spokesperson.

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