National Football League pizza sponsor Papa John's blames $70mn loss on anthem protests

National Football League pizza sponsor Papa John's blames $70mn loss on anthem protests

In his 2017 book "Papa: The Story of Papa John's Pizza", Schnatter argued that regulations are steering the United States away from the system of free enterprise he believes is crucial to the nation's success.

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.

Papa John's has said they will be removing the NFL logo from their television commercials as well as descriptions of the company as an "official sponsor" of the league.

"Leadership starts at the top, and this is an example of poor leadership", CEO John Schnatter said in a call with investors on Wednesday.

That figure is down 5 percent from 15.549 million viewers during the first half of the 2016 season and off 18.7 percent from 18.167 million viewers for the same period in 2015 - before former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick inspired a debate about racial injustice by sitting, then taking a knee, during the national anthem. The average game this season has attracted 14.8 million viewers, down from 15.6 million at the same point previous year.

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The NFL has declined to comment. The NFL's plummeting ratings means consumers are not ordering Papa John's for NFL game days.

Yum Brands is the parent company of Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell.

The two pizza chains-it should be said-do not have identical relationships with the National Football League.

Pizza Hut has also been working to up its delivery game and catch up with the more tech-savvy Domino's Pizza Inc., which makes it easy for customers to order pizza pies through apps, social media posts or even text messages. That's down from the 13 percent growth it reported in the same period the year before. In comparison, sales were up 5.5% at the same time past year.

Whether these protests have anything to do with the decline of pizza sales or not, we remain incredibly inspired by the National Football League players who are taking a stand by taking a knee, and we both respect and support their right to do so.

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