Papa John’s founder and CEO John Schnatter has announced that the anthem protests by NFL players have hurt pizza sales. From ESPN:

“The NFL has hurt us,” company founder and CEO John Schnatter said. “We are disappointed the NFL and its leadership did not resolve this.”

Executives said the company has pulled much of its NFL television advertising and that the NFL has responded by giving the company additional future spots.

“Leadership starts at the top and this is an example of poor leadership,” Schnatter said, noting he thought the issue had been “nipped in the bud” a year and a half ago.

In revising sales estimates for the next quarter, Papa John’s president and chief operating officer Steve Ritchie said on the call that the NFL deal was the primary suspect behind the decline and that “we expect it to persist unless a solution is put in place.”

The declining viewership, which is because of the protests and other factors like penalizing everything and referees not knowing what a catch is, along with negative feelings toward the league caused the slump according to those in charge at Papa John’s.

Papa John’s has almost become simultaneous with the NFL the past few years due to its sponsorship with the league and 23 of the teams. Prominent ads include Schnatter with former Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning, who owns a few franchises in the city.

Shares of the pizza chain fell by 10% on Wednesday. Papa John’s said that “same-store sales grew 1 percent, falling short of a 1.4 percent rise.”


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