Not a single NFL sponsor or pizza chain will say it’s losing sales after players’ national anthem protests — except Papa John’s

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Hollis Johnson

    Papa John’s CEO and founder John Schnatter slammed the NFL last week, blaming players’ protests on the chain’s subpar sales. 18 NFL sponsors and three pizza brands we contacted failed to confirm similar struggles.

NFL sponsors and other pizza chains are refusing to follow in Papa John’s footsteps after the company’s CEO slammed the professional football league.

Business Insider reached out to 18 other NFL sponsors to ask whether they were reevaluating their sponsorship deals and whether national anthem protests were impacting business. Not a single company told us that they were considering ditching the NFL or that sales had been negatively affected.

Papa John's CEO and founder John Schnatter ignited controversy with his comments slamming the NFL.

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Papa John’s CEO and founder John Schnatter ignited controversy with his comments slamming the NFL.
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Michael Hickey/Getty Images

“We have many long-term sports partnerships, including our NFL sponsorship, and while we may not agree on everything, we still believe in the power of sport to bring people together and overcome their differences,” Budweiser and Bud Light parent company AB InBev said in a statement. “We have no plans to end our NFL sponsorship.”

Pizza chains have been similarly unmoved by Papa John’s argument that low NFL ratings are hurting sales.

“I can only speak to the third quarter, the results of which we released on October 12,” a Domino’s representative told Business Insider. “Nothing we reported in the quarter included commentary about the NFL because we saw no reason to call it out.”

Pizza Hut said in a call with investors that the chain’s business had not been impacted by the protests or the league’s ratings. Wingstop, another chain that heavily relies on orders from NFL viewers, said the same thing. And, frozen pizza brand DiGiorno implied on Twitter that Papa John’s problem wasn’t the NFL – it was that the chain’s pizza tastes like “dog s—.”

Last week, Papa John’s founder and CEO John Schnatter slammed NFL leadership and blamed players protesting during the national anthem for dragging down the pizza chain’s sales. The pizza chain told the Wall Street Journal on Friday that it was reevaluating its NFL sponsorship – a deal that the company currently allocates a “huge percentage” of its fall and winter marketing budget toward.