Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter said on a conference call regarding the pizza company’s third-quarter financial results that NFL player protests during the national anthem before league games have hurt his company’s bottom line, according to reports.
“The NFL has hurt us,” Schnatter said on the call, according to ESPN. “We are disappointed the NFL and its leadership did not resolve this.”
The Louisville, Ken.-based company’s stock price declined more than 12 percent Wednesday morning, according to Google Finance. That came after Papa John’s cut expectations for earnings and sales growth for the full year in its third quarter-release.
“Leadership starts at the top and this is an example of poor leadership,” Schnatter reportedly added on the conference call.
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Papa John’s is the NFL’s official pizza product, and according to Sport Illustrated, it has individual deals with nearly 75 percent of the league’s teams.
It depends on those relationships and relationships like it to sell its pizza. Sales growth in North America, which earlier reports was said to be anywhere from 2 to 4 percent, were adjusted down to 1.5 percent, it was announced in the company’s third-quarter results.
The development comes amidst decreasing viewership ratings for NFL games this season, down 7.5 percent comparing the first six weeks of the 2017 and the 2016 seasons, as reported by ESPN, citing Nielsen ratings.
According to Business Insider, Schnatter called the continuing issue of players kneeling or raising fists during the national anthem preceding NFL games a “debacle.”
“This should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago,” he told investors, according to Business Insider.