Papa John or 'Papa Gone'? Twitter reacts as CEO John Schnatter steps down



The man who founded Papa John’s Pizza is out as CEO.

News that Papa John’s founder John Schnatter would step down as chief executive of the pizza company sparked some popular tweets Thursday — some arguably more popular than the pizza itself.

Many riffed on Schnatter’s role as Papa of pizza, wondering whether Mama was up next or how Elton John might be feeling about the developments.

“Papa John has stepped down so he can spend more time with his family, Mama John and Son John,” actor Ike Barinholtz tweeted. 

Others bravely stepped up to the plate, volunteering to be the next Papa. 

“Can i be the next CEO of papa john’s? my qualifications are i’m eating chips out of the bag with a spoon because i’m full of great ideas,” Twitter comedian Aparna Nancherla wrote.

Papa John’s announcement came about two months after Schnatter publicly blamed slowing sales growth on the outcry surrounding players kneeling during the national anthem. The company is an NFL sponsor and advertiser. 

In the days following that rant, a white supremacist publication claimed the company as the official pizza of the alt-right in a post that included a photo of pizza with pepperonis arranged in a swastika. 

More: Papa John’s CEO, pizza titan John Schnatter, steps down

More: Papa John’s CEO apologizes to NFL, players for comments; blasts white supremacists

The company apologized two weeks after Schnatter’s comments, condemning racism and saying it didn’t want such groups buying its pizza. 

“Open to ideas from all,” one company tweet read. “Except neo-nazis — (a raised middle finger emoji) those guys.” 

The apology was roasted on Twitter by some who felt the apology was too little, too late. “You may be offending some of your only remaining customers. (Spoilers: They’re Nazis),” one user said.

President and Chief Operating Officer Steve Richie, who is set to replace Schnatter as CEO on Jan. 1, declined to say Thursday if the NFL comments played a role in Schnatter stepping down — only saying that it’s “the right time to make this change.” 

The company hasn’t decided if Schnatter will still be its spokesman, Richie said, adding that a decision will be made early next year.

Twitter, though, wasn’t waiting for a decision.


John Schnatter is leaving as CEO of Papa John’s Pizza. No reason was given for Schnatter’s decision, but he recently faced criticism for blaming protesting NFL players for slumping pizza sales.


Facebook Comments