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Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Papa John's founder John Schnatter will step down as CEO in January, about two months after he criticized the NFL leadership over their players’ national anthem protests, the AP reports.

Why it matters: Papa John's is a sponsor and advertiser of the NFL. Earlier this year, Schnatter blamed slow earnings on players kneeling during the national anthem, a gesture that upset some fans.

Papa John's later apologized, after white nationalists praised Schnatter's remarks.

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first kneeled during the national anthem to bring attention to police mistreatment of black men. Other players then started doing the gesture in subsequent games.

What's next: He will be replaced as chief executive by Chief Operating Officer Steve Ritchie on Jan. 1. Schnatter, who is the company's biggest shareholder, remains chairman of the board, per the AP. Ritchie declined to say if the controversial comments played a role in Schnatter stepping down, per the AP.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Fall and winter COVID surge "unlikely" if people get vaccinated.
  2. Politics: School boards are the next political battleground.
  3. Vaccines: Pfizer begins application for full FDA vaccine approval — Moderna says its COVID booster shot shows promise against variants.
  4. Economy: U.S. adds just 266,000 jobs in April, far below expectations.
  5. World: Asia faces massive new COVID surgeIndia records its deadliest day of the pandemic.
  6. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Kevin McCarthy officially endorses Elise Stefanik to replace Liz Cheney

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) officially endorsed Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) to become the GOP's next House Republican conference chair during a Fox News appearance Sunday.

Why it matters: The GOP has been feuding internally over the fate of the current chair, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), because of her criticisms of former President Donald Trump, and her vote to impeach him for his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Fauci: Vaccines could turn COVID-19 "surges" into "blips"

NIAID director Anthony Fauci told "Meet the Press" Sunday that if more Americans get vaccinated in accordance with the Biden administration's goals, COVID-19 surges may be replaced by "blips."

State of play: Last week President Joe Biden announced his goal to get 160 million Americans fully vaccinated by July 4, with at least 70% of Americans having at least one shot.

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