Papa John's Pizza has walked back founder and CEO John Schnatter's claim that NFL player protests are behind falling pizza sales. In a series of tweets Tuesday, the chain apologized to anyone who found the remarks "divisive," and said it was open to ideas from all, except neo-Nazis, USA Today reports. Days after Schnatter's controversial remarks, the white supremacist Daily Stormer site claimed Papa John's as the "official pizza of the alt-right," reports the Louisville Courier-Journal. "We believe in the right to protest inequality and support the players’ movement to create a new platform for change," Papa John's tweeted Tuesday.
"We also believe together, as Americans, we should honor our anthem. There is a way to do both," the company continued. "We will work with the players and league to find a positive way forward. Open to ideas from all. Except neo-nazis—[middle finger emoji] those guys." Schnatter, who was strongly criticized for what was seen as an attempt to stifle protests, made his remarks during a Nov. 1 earnings call, in which he disclosed a decline in sales. At CBS, Pete Blackburn describes the Tuesday tweets as "more of a 'sorry you were offended' apology than a 'sorry, we screwed up' apology." He says it will be interesting to see whether the "semi-apology" boosts sales—and if not, "they could always try making better pizza."