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Papa John's CEO John Schnatter steps down, President Steve Ritchie promoted to CEO

Photo by Phil Ellsworth / ESPN Images(LOUISVILLE, Ky.) -- John Schnatter has stepped down from his role as CEO of Papa John's International, as the company announced the promotion of Steve Ritchie to that position on Thursday.

Ritchie, 43, will guide the world's third-largest pizza delivery company "through its next stage of growth," a press release says. Schnatter, meanwhile, will remain with the company as Chairman and founder.

Schnatter was criticized in recent weeks after he blamed the National Football League and players who protested social inequality during the national anthem for the company's lagging sales figures.

"I am humbled to take on this role," Ritchie said in his statement. "By focusing on our team members, we will deliver the world class experiences our customers deserve."

Schnatter offered praise for Ritchie, saying "I am so proud of Steve...we couldn't have a more proven leader to guide Papa John's through its next stage of growth."

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