papa john's
Ken Wolter / Dreamstime

Pizza Hut CEO and DiGiorno Respond to Papa John Blaming NFL for Poor Sales

Papa John’s is an official sponsor of the NFL
papa john's
Ken Wolter / Dreamstime

Papa John’s same-store sales are on the decline and CEO John Schnatter says NFL protests are to blame. The chain relies heavily on game-time delivery and is an official sponsor to the league. According to Yahoo Sports, Schnatter said: “The NFL has hurt us by not resolving the current debacle to the players’ and owners’ satisfaction. NFL leadership has hurt Papa John’s shareholders.”

The “current debacle” he refers to is the “Take a Knee” demonstrations exhibited by athletes protesting racial inequality. But many people argue that not standing for the anthem directly disrespects the United States and military overseas. In turn, a large number of these people — and even restaurants across the nation — claim to be boycotting the league.

“This should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago,” Schnatter continued. “Like many sponsors, we’re in touch with the NFL. Once the issue is resolved, we’re optimistic the NFL’s best years are ahead.”

But Greg Creed, CEO of Pizza Hut’s parent company Yum Brands, thinks that’s a crock of bull.

“We’re not seeing impact on any of that on our business,” he said in a call with investors, according to Business Insider, adding that Pizza Hut also benefits from live sporting events, such as baseball and football. The chain is even an official sponsor of the NCAA.

Frozen pizza giant DiGiorno took a few stabs at Schnatter's claims, tweeting, "Better Pizza. Better Sales." The company even changed its Twitter biography to say the same thing. 

Papa John's responded by changing its Twitter biography to "Frozen pizza = the pizza equivalent of a participation trophy."


For more on the Kentucky-based chain, here are 9 things you didn’t know about Papa John’s.