There are the great rivalries of our time: Yankees versus Red Sox. Mothra versus Godzilla. Taylor Swift versus Katy Perry. And then, there are the really crap, petty rivalries that put even Taylor and Katy to shame: Like the current grudge match between Papa John’s founder John Schnatter and current CEO Steve Ritchie that somehow keeps churning out daily doses of petulance and vitriol, even as we wail and rend our garments and wish to the high heavens that Schnatter had never even thought of creating a pizza box with his face on it in the first place.
Just this week on As The Papa John’s World Turns, you may recall that Papa John’s put out a statement thanking its many detractors for calling the chain out as racist. CEO Ritchie also released a long Twitter thread about overhauling the company’s overall corporate culture. Schnatter, naturally, took this lying down, enjoying a tropical drink with at least two fingers of rum and an umbrella in it at some fabulous resort on his now-permanent vacation.
Haha, of course he didn’t. Instead, he composed a letter to his franchisees on his “truther” website, savepapajohns.com, saying that Ritchie “is out of his depth as CEO.” Schnatter also says “claims he told the company’s board in June that Ritchie ‘needed to go’ and ‘they agreed with me’” and wanted him to return to the company, says USA Today. In an interview this week with CNN Money, Schnatter continued his rant, saying that he was being scapegoated for the company’s current dire financial straits: “You can’t blame everything on two comments,” referring to his statements regarding the NFL’s national anthem controversy and a racial slur he used during a marketing phone call, which resulted in Schnatter stepping down as chairman of the board.
Surprising no one, Papa John’s has already released a statement, calling “the accusations ‘untrue and disparaging,’ characterizing them as ‘a self-serving attempt to distract from the damaging impact his own words and actions have had on the company and our stakeholders,’” says CNN Money.
As with Mothra and Godzilla, you have to ask yourself: How will this all end? In the courts? (Seems likely.) A division of assets? A daily joint smear campaign for all the world to see, as in current times? We’ve seen Hamilton, so we know this doesn’t usually end well, but what we wouldn’t give for a good old slap across the face with a white glove, resulting in pistols at dawn. Since we obviously can’t do that, maybe a good old arm-wrestling or thumb-wrestling match? Papa John’s trivia team? Pizza-eating contest? Anything, just so we can declare a winner and be done with it. Please, make it stop.