During an earnings call yesterday, Papa John’s CEO and founder John Schnatter went back to his wheelhouse and blamed the NFL for poorer-than-expected sales. This time, though, he added that “NFL leadership has hurt Papa John’s shareholders” by not putting a stop to the anthem protests held by players. (It’s likely the first time in recent memory that someone has looked like the bad guy next to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.) The ensuing response to this (horrible) claim was exactly what you would expect, and the parent company of rival chain Pizza Hut saw the opportunity to throw some shade at Papa John’s. In its own earnings call, Yum! Brands CEO Greg Creed told investors, “We’re not seeing impact on any of that on our business.”
It’s true that Papa John’s is the “official pizza of the NFL,” and that its ads run almost constantly during game broadcasts, although it’s not as if the general public actually cares. What is clear is that Schnatter donated money to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and spoke out against Obamacare, so perhaps gently politicizing your pizza chain isn’t the best move in the world — even if you think to include a single pepperoncino with each order.