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- Papa John’s sought to distance itself from the far-right movement after the pizza chain’s controversial response to NFL national-anthem protests.
- Papa John’s flipped a bird to neo-Nazis in a message on Twitter on Tuesday night while promising to “work with players and the league to find a positive way forward.”
- CEO John Schnatter complained about NFL players’ national-anthem demonstrations when, during an earnings call earlier this month, he seemed to blame a decline in Papa John’s sales on the fallout from those protests.
Papa John’s on Tuesday sought to distance itself from the political far-right movement that has associated itself with the pizza chain following controversial remarks from its CEO, John Schnatter, who previously railed against NFL players’ national-anthem demonstrations.
“We believe in the right to protest inequality and support the players’ movement to create a new platform for change,” the company tweeted Tuesday. “We also believe together, as Americans, we should honor our anthem. There is a way to do both.”
Here’s more from Papa John’s:
We will work with the players and league to find a positive way forward. Open to ideas from all. Except neo-nazis — ????those guys. (3/3)
— Papa John's Pizza (@PapaJohns) November 15, 2017
During the call with investors in early November, Schnatter said the company, which has an exclusive partnership with the NFL, was “totally disappointed” by the organization’s leadership.
The controversy had its origins last year when Colin Kaepernick, the quarterback then playing for the San Francisco 49ers, took a knee during the national anthem before games to protest killings of unarmed black men by the police. A handful of players continued the protest this season, and it was magnified in September when President Donald Trump took issue with the method of protest.
“This should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago,” Schnatter reportedly said during the November 1 call. “Leadership starts at the top, and this is an example of poor leadership.”
Far-right groups took note of the sentiment and floated the idea that the pizza chain may have been the “official pizza of the alt right.”
Papa John’s statement on Twitter comes amid a sales slump for the pizza chain. The Business Insider retail reporter Kate Taylor noted last week that 18 other NFL sponsors refused to say whether they were reevaluating their NFL sponsorship deals or experiencing a negative sales impact attributed to the protests among NFL players.