John Schnatter, the founder and chief executive of the Papa John's pizza chain, told a conference call he believed the furore over protests during the anthem had hurt sales of his pizzas. The flap has even drawn tweets from President Donald Trump, who called for owners to fire or bench players who refuse to stand during "The Star-Spangled Banner".
"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", Schnatter said Wednesday. "This should've been nipped in the bud a year and half ago".
"Our global operators delivered another quarter of positive comp sales, with worldwide leading the way, posting the 30th consecutive quarter of worldwide positive comps", founder, Chairman and CEO John Schnatter said in the release.
The declining NFL viewership stems not only from some people being upset about the national anthem protests, but also from those concerned about concussions.
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The NFL did not respond to the Washington Post's request for comment. The chain is one of many sponsors for the league.
Papa John's could have a valid argument here.
Papa John's is losing a lot of dough, and the company's CEO is jumping to some pretty out-of-this-world conclusions as to why this has occurred.
"The controversy is polarizing the customer, polarizing the country", Schnatter said. The company said North American same-store sales, a key measure of the company's operations that strips out new locations, would grow 1.5% for 2017, instead of the 2% to 4% range previously stated.
Papa John's stock was down $5.94, or 9%, to $62.11 in early afternoon trading. Schnatter said the National Football League has promised to give the pizza company future spots in return.