The founder of Papa John’s International Inc. says that the National Football League’s (NFL) ongoing national anthem protests have damaged his company’s pizza sales.
“The NFL has hurt us by not resolving the current debacle to the players’ and owners’ satisfaction,” John Schnatter said during a conference call Wednesday, according to Bloomberg.
“NFL leadership has hurt Papa John’s shareholders,” added Schnatter, who also serves as the pizza chain’s chairman and chief executive officer.
Schnatter also criticized NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s handling of the situation, which has overshadowed the league’s football contests much of this year.
“Leadership starts at the top, and this is an example of poor leadership,” he said of Goodell, whose contract is up for renewal.
“This should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago,” added Schnatter, who founded Papa John’s in 1984.
“Like many sponsors, we’re in touch with the NFL. Once the issue is resolved, we’re optimistic that the NFL’s best years are ahead.”
Papa John’s shares fell the most in eight months on Wednesday after third-quarter same-store sales missed business analysts’ estimates.
The Louisville, Kentucky-based company also shrank its revenue and profit predictions for the year.
Papa John’s has been the NFL’s official pizza sponsor since 2010, but the league’s television ratings are down this year amid controversy over the anthem protests.
Scores of NFL coaches, players and staff have knelt during the national anthem since President Trump derided the gesture in September.
Trump urged the NFL to fire employees who perform the move, and he has since repeatedly argued it is unpatriotic.
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016 to protest America’s racial injustice.
Kaepernick remains a NFL free agent this season, leading some of his supporters to speculate his past demonstrations are partially responsible for his status.
We asked veterans how they really feel about the NFL anthem protests.