*John Schnatter, the outspoken conservative owner of Papa John’s pizza, is now claiming that his drop in sales is the direct result of NFL players protesting racial injustice by kneeling during the national anthem.
Schnatter pulled a lot of his ads from NFL games this season, citing the ongoing protests as a reason, though they still remain a prominent sponsor of the league, as well as 23 individual teams.
“The NFL has hurt Papa John’s shareholders,” he said during a conference call with investors on Wednesday. “The controversy is polarizing the customer, polarizing the country.”
Schnatter, who famously said that the passage of Obamacare would force him to raise his pizza prices and reduce workers’ hours, also lashed out at NFL executives for allowing the protests to continue, citing their actions as “an example of poor leadership.”
Papa John’s president and chief operating officer Steve Ritchie agreed with his boss regarding the cause of the decline, telling investors “we expect it to persist unless a solution is put in place.”
NFL ratings are down 5 percent from this time last year, but so is the rest of network television. Papa John’s stock, however, is down 24 percent for the year, while rival Domino’s is up 12 percent, suggesting maybe people are just sick of Papa John’s.
Twitter seemed to think so:
Papa Johns, you blaming your decline in sales on players kneeling is absolutely ridiculous. Let’s talk about your mediocre pizza ?
— Adriana (@Holaaddi) November 1, 2017
Papa Johns should worry a little less bout the anthem and more about making a decent pizza ??♂
— J (@Jferrie23) November 1, 2017
Papa Johns biggest business problem is their pizza is absolutely disgusting
— Tommy Alter (@talter) November 1, 2017
Papa Johns CEO: “Leadership starts at the top & this is example of poor leadership.”
In other words: Don’t let the inmates run the prison.
— First Words (@unscriptedmike) November 1, 2017
Papa Johns is blaming their pizza sales decline on black NFL players kneeling. What a time to be alive. ??♂
— Devin Walker (@Devin_Walker5) November 1, 2017