Papa John’s CEO: NFL Protests Hurting Sales

Pizza chain owner blames player protests for lost dough.

By Cory Gunkel / November 2, 2017 11:18 am

The founder of Papa John’s pizza is blaming player protests in the NFL for his restaurants’ declining revenue. John Schnatter used a quarterly conference call to blast the NFL’s leadership and accuse the protests of hurting his business.

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

Schnatter’s net worth dropped $70 million in less than 24 hours after the company released its third-quarter financial report, according to Forbes, which sent investors into a mild panic that sent shares down by 11 percent. Schnatter blamed part of this on the NFL’s ratings decline and a lack of leadership from commissioner Roger Goodell.

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

If this all sounds extremely silly, that’s because it probably is. While Papa John’s has suffered in the third quarter, other pizza chains are growing. Domino’s exploded in the third quarter, growing 8.4 percent, while Papa John’s stayed stagnant. Pizza Hut also saw a 1 percent increase in growth.

NFL protests started with Colin Kaepernick in 2016, when the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback first sat, and then later knelt, during the national anthem to protest police brutality in America. That, coupled with derisive comments made by President Donald Trump about NFL protesters, led to hundreds more players taking part in similar acts of protest around the league.

Schantter said the protests should have been “nipped in the bud” when Kaepernick first started kneeling. Papa John’s stock has dropped nearly 5 percent since the NFL season began, according to Sports Illustrated.