John Schnatter, "Papa" of Papa John's International (PZZA) stepped down as the CEO of the company in the wake of his controversial remarks about the NFL and the anthem protests at the end of 2017. Schnatter was replaced by Papa John's COO Steve Ritchie but will continue to serve as the chairman of the company. During an investor call on Nov. 1, Schnatter said that his company's pizza sales had been negatively affected by the NFL's handling of players kneeling during the national anthem. Schnatter said "The NFL has hurt our shareholders by not resolving the current debacle to the players' and owners' satisfaction."

Since the start of the football season on Sept. 7 through December 21, PZZA shares have lost more than 19 percent compared with a more-than-8 percent gain in the S&P 500 Index during that period. Papa John’s spent more than $31 million on TV spots that appeared during NFL games in 2016, according to estimates from Kantar Media and reported by the Wall Street Journal. The chain touts its being one of the "Official Partners of the NFL" in its advertising.

Pizza Hut owner YUM! Brands (YUM) in its last reported earnings noted it hadn't seen any decline of sales on account of the NFL protests, despite having similar partnerships. In the immediate aftermath of Schnatter's comments, some brands took to trolling Papa John's on Twitter, such as Nestle's (NSRGY) DiGiorno frozen pizza brand. After the Papa John's earning call, the frozen pizza giant sent out a tweet saying "Better Pizza, Better Sales", a clear riff on Papa John's catchphrase, "Better Ingredients, Better Pizza." The tweet went viral with more than 45,000 likes.  

On February 27, 2018,  Papa John's announced that it was ending its partnership with NFL after the anthem protest controversy. However, it still keeps its partnership with 22 of the individual teams. It is reported that Pizza Hut would replace Papa John's as the new official sponsor of NFL.

Here are the top four individual shareholders in Papa John's International.

John H. Schnatter

​The public face of Papa John's started his company in a closet of his father's tavern in Jeffersonville, Indiana. A 23-year-old Schnatter sold his 1971 Chevy Camaro to pay for pizza equipment. Schnatter's pizzas became a cheesy hit and he quickly earned enough money to move to the location next door.

The company rapidly expanded in the 1980s and 1990s, with Schnatter at the helm the whole time. The company has, as of January 2017, 5,097 Papa John's locations, both company-owned and franchised. The company went public under the ticker PZZA in 1993. Schnatter currently owns 9,355,079 shares (or slices) of PZZA (as of Feb. 28, 2018), making him the largest shareholder, either individual or institutional, owning roughly 26% of the company. These numbers are not reflective of Schnatter's removal as CEO and may vary in future.

Olivia F. Kirtley 

Olivia F. Kirtley is the Lead Independent Director at Papa John's. In addition to her duties at Papa John's, Kirtley has a storied history in accounting, having served as the president of The International Federation of Accountants. Elected in Rome, her first job as president was to address Pope Francis in Italian. Kirtley owns 188,053 shares of PZZA (as of Feb.28, 2018), making her the second-largest shareholder. 

W. Kent Taylor

Kent Taylor was appointed to the Board of Directors in May, 2011. Mr. Taylor is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Texas Roadhouse, Inc. a full-service, casual dining restaurant chain with locations across the U.S. and in several foreign countries. As of February 28, 2018, Taylor owns 39,699 shares of PZZA, making him the third-largest individual shareholder. 

Timothy C. O'Hern

Timothy C. O'Hern is the Senior Vice President and Chef Development Officer of Papa John's, appointed in July 2012. O'Hern has been with the company since franchising 15 of his own Papa John's locations, named Capital Pizza. He has served in a number of positions, including Franchise Director and Vice President of Development. O'Hern owns 29,651 shares of PZZA (as of Feb. 28, 2018), making him the fourth-largest individual shareholder. 

Top Institutional Owners 

The top institutional owners of Papa John's, as of the end of 2017, are Blackrock Inc., which owns 3,144,563 shares of PZZA, accounting for 8.97% of all shares. Blackrock Inc. is followed by Vanguard Group, Inc., with 2,078,859 shares. 

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