Papa John's founder says National Football League anthem controversy hurting pizza sales

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"NFL leadership has hurt Papa John's shareholders".

Meanwhile, Papa John's CEO blamed the league for decreased sales and slammed NFL leadership. Since former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started this action during the national anthem at a game a year ago over the treatment of black men by police in the USA, many other players have echoed this action. And it's not the fact that Papa Johns himself is a creep, it is that the pizza is absolute trash.

Instead of maybe shifting focus to the company's much stronger worldwide sales or just taking the hit, Schnatter made a decision to jump on the anti-NFL bandwagon and actually pin his company's poor performance on that hyper-newsworthy topic of some players kneeling during the national anthem.

President Donald Trump has criticised the players for the protests and pressed the National Football League to ban them.

The NFL may be part of the problems Papa John's faces, but it's far from the only one. The stock is down 24% this year, while competitors including Domino's have performed well (Domino's stock is up 12% this year).

"This should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago", Schnatter said on the call.

"The controversy is polarizing the customer, polarizing the country", he said. With fewer Americans watching games, fewer people are presumably ordering pizza - and seeing Papa John's ads.

The company, which is a sponsor and advertiser of the National Football League, said customers have a negative view of the chain's association with the NFL.

Papa John's still expects sales to increase by 1.5% in North America this year, but that's down from its previous estimates.

Many on the right rallied around Papa John's and Schnatter following his comments.