The founder and CEO of Papa John’s entered the political fray on Wednesday, slamming NFL leadership over the ongoing national anthem protests.
“Leadership starts at the top, and this is an example of poor leadership,” CEO John Schnatter said in a call with investors on Wednesday.
The CEO’s statements quickly inspired backlash on the left and support on the right.
This is far from the first time that Schnatter has entered the political arena, however.
Schnatter came under fire in 2012 for saying that the Affordable Care Act could be “lose-lose” for Papa John’s franchisees and employees. Schnatter argued that Obamacare would cost Papa John’s $5-8 million annually and ultimately drive up the price of pizza.
The backlash was swift, with many promising to boycott Papa John’s in response to Schnatter’s comments. Papa John’s shares slumped about 4.2% during the controversy, Forbes reported.
Schnatter has moved away from public political discussions following the Obamacare controversy. The CEO donated $1,000 to President Trump’s campaign but did not make any effort to publicly support the politician.
“As far as the politics, I have no idea,” Schnatter told Business Insider prior to Trump’s inauguration. “I do think we ought to give the new administration at least a chance to either do better things or to botch it.”
Though he has avoided speaking on specific policies, the CEO has maintained his anti-regulation perspective.
In his 2017 book “Papa: The Story of Papa John’s Pizza,” Schnatter argued that regulations are steering the US away from the system of free enterprise he believes is crucial to the nation’s success.
“America in 2016 is on the path to becoming what Germany was in 1867,” Schnatter writes in “Papa.”
1867 is the year that Schnatter’s great-grandfather immigrated to the US from Germany as a young craftsman seeking work. The US was a land of opportunity where people were free to become successful without fear of attack or government interference.
Speaking with Business Insider in January, Schnatter emphasized that he believes that regulation in the US needs to be dialed back to help businesses thrive.
“You’ve got to have free markets with limited government, with the proper amount of regulation where you don’t jam entrepreneurship,” Schnatter said.
Schnatter has also taken a public stance against overpaid executives.
“It’s an immoral arrangement. It’s wrong,” Schnatter said in January. “And that’s why corporate America has got a bad name.”