Papa John's: Pizza Isn't Selling Because Players Are Kneeling
John Schnatter wants NFL to force players to stand for national anthem
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 1, 2017 5:04 PM CDT
Updated Nov 2, 2017 1:03 AM CDT
Papa John's founder, chairman, and CEO John Schnatter talks with Archie Manning and JJ Watt on Super Bowl 51 Radio Row, Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017, in Houston.   (Photo by Jack Dempsey/Invision for Papa John's/AP Images)

(Newser) – "Papa" John Schnatter, fresh off seeing his net worth drop $70 million, is blaming the NFL's tolerance of player protests for declining pizza sales at his eponymous restaurants, Forbes reports. Papa John's released its third-quarter financial report Tuesday, and while it beat its estimates for earnings and revenue, it also lowered expectations for sales. On Wednesday, shares fell 11% and Schnatter saw his net worth decline to $801 million. According to Bloomberg, it was Papa John's biggest stock drop in two years and came nearly a year after the chain hit an all-time high last December. The culprit, according to Schnatter: NFL players kneeling during the national anthem and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's failure to stop them.

“This should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago,” Schnatter said on a conference call Wednesday. Schnatter, a Trump donor, believes Goodell should force players to stand for the anthem. “Leadership starts at the top, and this is an example of poor leadership,” Schnatter said. A Bloomberg analyst says it's possible to see where Schnatter is coming from: fewer people watching football means fewer people ordering pizza or seeing ads for Papa John's, which has been the NFL's official pizza sponsor since 2010. But, as Slate notes, there's no evidence protests—either by players or offended fans—have been behind the decline in NFL viewership. Multiple sports have seen ratings decline as more people opt out of cable, and the NFL's ratings have actually been going up as the season progresses.

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