Papa John's blames National Football League protests for declining pizza sales

Papa John's blames National Football League protests for declining pizza sales

Papa John's, the official pizza company of the NFL, is reportedly upset with the league's ongoing player protests during the national anthem, and have chose to pull many of its NFL television advertising. Last month, Vice President Mike Pence left an Indianapolis Colts game after San Francisco 49ers' players took a knee during the anthem. "Once the issue is resolved, we're optimistic the NFL's best years are ahead", Schnatter said.

Papa John's has been listed as the official pizza of the National Football League since 2010, and the company states that a decline in viewership and negative consumer sentiments led to the sales slump.

"Leadership starts at the top and this is an example of poor leadership", Schnatter said.

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Schnatter blasted the NFL over the player protests during the national anthem and suggested that was to blame for the sluggish numbers.

Schnatter's criticism stems from the NFL's decision to allow players to protest on the field during the playing of the national anthem before games.

The NFL did not respond to the Washington Post's request for comment.

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The NFL may be part of the problems Papa John's faces, but it's far from the only one. The company posted disappointing earnings results this week, saying that same store sales grew by just 1 percent, missing analysts' projections. The stock is down 24% this year, while competitors including Domino's have performed well (Domino's stock is up 12% this year).

While Papa John's has apparently started pulling its NFL TV advertising, the league is trying to save the relationship by offering more future spots.

"Like Subway in recent years, Papa John's has invested in athletes to market their products", Darren Tristano, a foodservice trend expert, told CNBC via email. Meanwhile, NFL ratings have also fallen-a point that Papa John's has also blamed on the ongoing protests - which presumably also lowers the number of people watching the chain's ads and eating its pizza.

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