John Schnatter, CEO and founder of Papa John’s Pizza, inadvertently made pizza political during an earnings call two weeks ago when he blamed the NFL’s National Anthem protest for hurting his company’s sales. Papa John’s is a major sponsor of the NFL, and Schnatter himself shows up in commercials alongside NFL officials and players and ESPN personalities.
Schnatter complained to investors that “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."
It was closer to a year ago that former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided to do a “Black Lives Matter” protest by refusing to stand during the pre-game performance of the National Anthem, but the protest didn’t really take off until President Trump criticized it this past September.
Seeing a drop of 11 percent in the company’s shares and soggy sales in the third quarter, Schnatter said on Nov. 1, "The NFL has hurt us and, more importantly, by not resolving the current debacle to the [players' and owners'] satisfaction, NFL leadership has hurt Papa John's. Leadership starts at the top, and this is an example of poor leadership."
"The controversy is polarizing the customer, polarizing the country," he added.
Schnatter was hit with a backlash of criticism from liberals, and whoever runs his official Papa John’s Pizza Twitter page got into a Twitter battle with competitors DiGiorno and Ledo Pizza. Fellow NFL sponsor Pizza Hut denied any negative impact on their sales from the Anthem protest.
But now the Papa John’s CEO has backed down, releasing a major apology on Twitter and a shout-out to the protesters.
ABC News points out that Papa John’s stock fell almost 13 percent in the days after his anti-NFL-protest comment.
What do you think of this? In other news, Roy Moore’s attorney just attacked the credibility of Moore’s latest accuser by pointing out what he says are major inconsistencies in her story.