After 7 Long Years, Papa Johns Gets Last Laugh on NFL

Kirsters Baish| John Schnatter, the founder of popular pizza chain Papa John’s, stepped down from the CEO position as of January 1st. Many people feel that he made this decision based on him having called out NFL anthem protesters for kneeling during the National Anthem. Schnatter claimed that this cost his business money.

Now, Papa John’s is done with the NFL once and for all. After 7 years, they are no longer the official pizza sponsor of the NFL.

BizPac Review reported that the pizza chain saw a drop in sales last year and blamed it on the NFL anthem protests. ESPN reported that they have just announced this past Tuesday that they will no longer be “the official pizza of the NFL.”

The NFL and Papa John’s released a joint statement which explained, “The NFL and Papa John’s have made a mutual decision to shift from their official league sponsorship to a focus on partnerships with 22 local NFL teams, presence in broadcast and digital media, and key personalities in the sport.”

Since 2010, Papa John’s has been the official pizza of the NFL. The founder of the pizza company and former CEO, John Schnatter, received support as well as backlash last year after going after anthem protesters. He explained that the protests were causing him to lose business.

At the time, he stated, “We are certainly disappointed that NFL and its leadership did not resolve the ongoing situation to the satisfaction of all parties. This should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago.”

ESPN reported that Schnatter, who has been the face of the pizza company to the media, was replaced on January 1st. Lance Tucker, the chief financial officer of the pizza company, will be leaving Papa John’s this week. He will be moving to Jack in the Box to become a CFO.

Papa John’s sales were down 3.9 percent nation wide between October and December when comparing to the same time a year prior. On Tuesday, the company explained that because of promotions which didn’t work out in addition to negative consumer perception, they had positive comparative sales for the 14th year in a row.

Shares plummeted 7 percent in after-hours trading.

CNBC reported on the anthem protests effect on business:

Papa John himself slammed NFL leadership on Wednesday, blaming the organization for lackluster sales at his pizza restaurants in the third quarter.

John Schnatter, the founder and CEO of Papa John’s, said the league and its leadership “hurt” the company by not resolving the player protests that have been taking place during the National Anthem.

On an earnings call on Wednesday, Schnatter stated, “The NFL has been a long and valued partner over the years, but we are certainly disappointed that NFL and its leadership did not resolve the ongoing situation to the satisfaction of all parties. This should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago.”

The truth is that the anthem protests had a negative effect on business for Papa John’s. They did what they had to do and cut ties with the NFL.