Papa John's says National Football League protests hurting sales

Lynette Rowe
November 2, 2017

"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 during an earnings call Wednesday.

Papa John's executives said during the conference call with the media that the company pulled much of its NFL television advertising and that the league responded by giving the company additional future spots.

Although he didn't mention NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell by name, Schnatter insinuated that "poor leadership" was what has affected his chain's stock being down a not insignificant 24 percent this year.

The national anthem controversy began in August 2016 when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick chose to not stand when "The Star-Spangled Banner " played, and instead dropped to one knee.

Papa John's, according to Bloomberg, "also trimmed its revenue and profit forecasts for the year" during the call.

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According to a report in the Sports Business Journal, in-game pizza sales have fallen off dramatically since President Trump blasted National Football League protesters in September. That came after Papa John's cut expectations for earnings and sales growth for the full year in its third quarter-release. Users accused him of blaming the players protesting racial inequality-and missed no opportunity to take jabs at their quality of pizza. ESPN also reports that Schnatter felt the issue should have been "nipped in the bud" when the protests first began.

Papa John's could have a valid argument here.

Nevertheless, this is going to embolden the Jerry Jones and Bob McNair anti-protest camp, since regardless of the merits of Papa John's claims it is an on-record impact on the league's bottom line.

For Q3, system-wide comparable sales were up 1.0% for the North America business and increased 5.3% at worldwide stores.

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