Papa John’s Blames The NFL For Hurting Pizza Sales: “The NFL Has Hurt Us”

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It’s been a very trying time for the NFL for the past year and a half, ever since Colin Kaepernick kicked off his protests during the national anthem to bring awareness of police brutality and social injustice.

Not only are the players participating being affected by it, but also advertisers.

Papa John’s in-game pizza sales have fallen since President Donald Trump encouraged owners to fire kneeling players and for people to boycott the NFL in late September, according to Business Insider.

NFL spokesperson Joe Lockhart confirmed to Sports Business Journal that Papa John’s had expressed concerns with the league. Further, Lockhart said that other top sponsors have expressed similar concerns as the NFL’s TV ratings slump and political battles play out in the league. 

The NFL is crucial to Papa John’s business. The company began its partnership with the NFL in 2010 and has “Preferred Pizza” partnerships with 23 NFL teams. Last year, the company signed a multi-year partnership with the NFL and the Super Bowl.

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

“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.

Papa John’s has a deal with not only the NFL, but also with 23 individual teams. The company declined to state how much money they’ve lost since the Anthem protests kicked off last season.

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