papa johns-nfl-john schnatter

NFL owners have huffed and pouted all fall about how players protesting racial injustice has hurt their bottom line. Well, it turns out that maybe they weren’t completely off-base with those concerns.

As reported by ESPN and others, Papa John’s founder and CEO John Schnatter said Wednesday that the protests have rubbed off on his pizza chain, an official NFL sponsor, and Papa John’s executives said they had pulled some NFL-associated advertising in response.

“The NFL has hurt us,” company founder and CEO John Schnatter said. “We are disappointed the NFL and its leadership did not resolve this.”

Executives said the company has pulled much of its NFL television advertising and that the NFL has responded by giving the company additional future spots.

“Leadership starts at the top and this is an example of poor leadership,” Schnatter said, noting he thought the issue had been “nipped in the bud” a year and a half ago.

Papa John’s COO Steve Ritchie told reporters that the company is revising sale projections for next quarter downward, largely due to the NFL. He says Papa John’s, which has a sponsorship agreement with the league as well as with 23 individual teams, is the sponsor most recognized for its association with the NFL, per ESPN. According to Sports Business Journal, Papa John’s has informed the NFL that in-game sales are down since Donald Trump criticized the league back in September.

Regardless of how or why Papa John’s sales are down, the fact the company blames the NFL is bad news for the league, from the perspective of revenue and also public relations. Owners cannot be thrilled to have a key sponsor angry with them, and they especially cannot be pleased to have that sponsor trashing them publicly.

This is not the first time Schnatter, an avowed Republican, has offered his take on hot-button political issues. Most notably, he made dubious claims in 2013 about how the Affordable Care Act would hurt his pizza business.

Schnattter obviously does not like NFL players protesting, likely for reasons both personal and financial, and by going public he’s attempting to strong-arm NFL owners into action. Is it possible that association with the increasingly unpopular NFL is denting pizza sales? Maybe. But is it also possible that Papa John’s is suffering due to innovation from competitors (Domino’s, for example, is doing well), the rise of DoorDash and Grubhub, or the fact that their pizza isn’t the greatest? Sure is.


About Alex Putterman

Alex is a writer and editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has written for The Atlantic, VICE Sports,, and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.

  • Parts

    I’m more inclined to believe that due to their incessant advertising, more folks have tried, and discovered how crappy, Poppa Johns pizza is. Thereby resulting in declining sales.

    • Inyoface

      Exactly. Straight hot garbage pizza. Better options = everything BUT papa johns. Sorry bruh. Lets put the blame where it belongs.

      • Be Walters

        I think you’re getting your opinion- and facts mixed up.

      • Nagg05

        Papa John’s rubber pizza is the worst

    • namingrightsforsale

      but the TV says they have better ingredients which makes better pizza so it must be true

    • jrp628

      Better ketchup, better cardboard, Papa John’s.

    • Peter Harrington

      Crappy pizza or not, they are the ones paying the bills for the NFL food trough. Lets see how much they will kneel when they do not have a job. Watch soccer!!

  • Alek Hiddel

    Thanks for the SJW spin on it Alex

  • Marie Barf

    Doozy of some spin here….LOL. What part of “football fans do not wish to be bombarded with SJW crap while they are trying to watch a football game” have you not been able to comprehend?

    • Brian C. Lee

      Just about every article they’ve written on this topic has the same SJW spin on it. If they haven’t gotten it by now, they’re not going to.

      • Brent Garrison

        What whiny asshats.

    • Clamdigger

      Not really. Their pizza sucks.

  • Shame Hannity

    SJW spin, my ass. Papa John’s has terrible pizza, plain and simple. When Little Caesars makes a better product than you, sales will decline, as Parts has stated.

    • nbtx27

      That is sad. Didn’t think anything was worse than Little Caesars. Now add cici’s and Domino’s and you have the 4 worst “pizza” places.

    • Peter Harrington

      I bet you ordered more Papa John’s pizza in your lifetime than you can shed pounds. With such BS you must be a democrat

      • Tom Auclair

        “Fact” taken out of thin air + “Slam” based on no facts (you must be fat) + “you must be a Democrat “burn” = “Clever” statement.

        If you can’t do better than that, son, just stay off the Interwebz.

      • Shame Hannity

        Actually, Peter, I don’t eat pizza much anymore as it gives me heartburn. I had Papa John’s once in my life and hated it. Round Table is my favorite a far as chains go.

        I am a registered Independent, as I hate voting in those damn primaries!! As far as the lb’s go, I could lose about 10. But I work out 4-5 days a week and play lots of golf!! I just need to cut out the beer and ice cream….

    • Tom Auclair

      When the guy next to the dumpster in the alley behind Pizza Hut makes better pizza than you, you’re in trouble.

  • cablejunkie

    fake pizza fake news

  • Raymond Terry

    Well, that tells you a lot about the people that eat Papa John’s.

    • Be Walters

      hahah I hate Trump with the heat of a billion suns- and I like Papa Johns quite a bit.. so ixnay that dimwitted conviction.

  • Curtis Guenther

    The player protests at based on a false narrative perpetuated by the lying liberal left.

    • Tom Auclair

      Yeah, all those dead black people in the streets — totally fake. JFC.

      • Curtis Guenther

        Yeah, killed by other blacks. Wake up.

        • Tom Auclair

          Don’t recall any of the cops who killed those unarmed black people as being black, but I’m thinking you’re beyond rational thought.

          • greggreen29

            You don’t have to be armed to commit violence or to be a deadly threat.

            How many times should an officer allow himself to be punched before he can draw and shoot?

  • sportsfan365

    Putterman has been very busy lately. Makes me think there have been some recent lay-offs at Awful Announcing. One big cheese editor bit the dust, but nothing was said on THIS site about it.

    • CreightonRabs

      And, of course, Putterman couldn’t resist throwing politics into the mix to appease his fellow social justice keyboard warriors when it was entirely unnecessary. The next time this fraud fake sports writer identifies a major Democrat contributor as such will be the first.

      • Brent Garrison

        Awwww…such smowflakes

      • Shame Hannity

        Awww, did Alex hurt CreightonRabs’ feewings again? Dude, did you comprehend the article?? Politics is the reason that Papa John’s is pulling some of it’s ads, not to mention that Jerry Jones, an avowed Trumpeteer, owns more than 100 PJ’s franchises and is upset at the whole anthem deal. Now be a good little conservative snowflake and run along to…….

  • nbtx27

    Good to pull advertising from the NFl. But… the biggest problem is his product… I wouldn’t call that pizza. It’s just terrible.

    • Nagg05

      It’s good that we don’t have to watch their commercial anymore…

  • Be Walters

    ehh… hahah your opinion is yours. To blanket and unequivocally state that Papa Johns is bad pizza is just stupid. I think it’s pretty damn good.
    However, it’s sad if people high up in PJ’s are Republicans. That’s lining up these days with some diseased souls- that have more love for Russia than they do the United States.

  • MetaphysicalMan

    Please elaborate on this nipping in the bud, Papa John.

  • inku palios

    Maybe Fox News can put more Papa John’s commercials on the network.

  • CjGoon

    Arrogant to say but growing up in NYC area and then moving to Philly I have always had access to great local pizza. Always felt sorry for those not near a major city that thought good pizza was Pizza Hut/Papa Johns/Dominos/etc.

    While I think Papa JOhn is stretching here, this has to be making NFL poop their pants that a major sponsor is outwardly blaming their leadership for their fall in sales. This more than anything will cost Goodell his job.

  • MrBeepo

    This is genius on Papa John’s part. Their sales are down…for whatever reason… and they saw an opportunity to capitalize. They blame the NFL and what do they get? More free ads for the rest of the season when TV viewership will increase. I am surprised that other sponsors haven’t thought of this.

  • sarah413

    Go to a local pizza establishment. I have never had a Papa John’s pizza, nor one from Pizza Hut or Little Caesar’s. Support local businesses.

  • george202

    Pappa John: shit on a shingle

  • Peter Harrington

    Watch a real football sport, watch soccer!!!!!

    • greggreen29

      Sheesh! Donkeys can play soccer. Play a sport that requires more evolution.

  • ua2

    Perhaps americans are evolving – reducing their intake of the nfl and pizza.

  • TheOriginalDonald

    You’re looking live at Pizza Hut Stadium in Louisville, KY…..

  • Meremortal

    The NFL – Death Of A Thousand Cuts

    *an instruction manual*

  • Meremortal

    So, did Papa John’s just go bad starting in Sept? Or, has PJs always sucked?

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