Papa John’s Just Disavowed Their Neo-Nazi Supporters After NFL Anthem Kneeling Protest Debacle

Here is a real slice of life decision designed to please everyone except neo-Nazis.

Its business down and its stock price depressed, Papa John’s threw a Hail Mary today.

The nation’s third-largest takeout pizza seller tweeted out an apology for remarks by founder and CEO John Schnatter on a November 1st earnings call with Wall Street analysts where he claimed protests by NFL players hurt pro football ratings, resulting in slower sales and a downturn in earnings by the pizza chain. 

The CEO had said that “The NFL has hurt us by not resolving the current debacle to the players’ and owner’s satisfaction. The NFL has hurt Papa John’s shareholders,” adding “This should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago.”

One of the few positive reactions to the CEO’s comments came from The Daily Stormer, the news outlet of the Nazi movement in America, which said it made Papa John’s the official pizza of the alt-right.  

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Papa John was horrified by that suggested designation and associated with the extreme group, and in their apologies today went out of their way to make clear they do not support the Nazi’s.

Papa Johns, which is based in a suburb of Louisville, Kentucky, has made a big bet on pro football, signing in 2010 to be the Official Sponsor of the National Football League and several Super Bowls. It has also bought naming rights to a college football stadium and put its name on bowl games.

After its CEO blamed player protests that began when Colin Kaepernick was with the San Francisco 49ers last year, and accelerated this season with players on many teams taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem – bringing critical comments and tweet from President Trump – it was taken by supporters of the players right to speak out about racism in America as a diss of the players and their right to protest.

Wall Street also was spooked, sacking the companies high flying stock price by 12 percent in the last two weeks. On September 1, Papa John’s stock price was $74.50 per share. It closed yesterday at $59.02 per share. 

Schattner personally lost millions in the value of his Papa John’s stock.

The NFL’ s ratings are down this season but analysts point to a number of other factors besides the reaction of some fans to the protests. Those include a proliferation in the number of games on TV and an increase in news shows during a very highly charged political period that often go head to head with football telecasts.

Looking to be on all the “right” sides of the issue at once, except for the Nazi side, Papa Johns said it supports the right to “protest inequality” and “the players’ movement to create a new platform for change.”

At the same time, it said as “Americans we should honor our anthem,” claiming there is a “way to do both.”

Papa John’s said it will work with the NFL and players “to find a positive way forward,” and added that it is “open to ideas from all. Except neo-Nazi’s.”

This is all about a company run by right-wing conservatives scrambling to get its business headed toward the goalposts again by being on almost all sides of a hot-button issue it should never have brought up in the way that its CEO did.

The company said it “sincerely” apologized “to anyone that thought (the CEO’s comments) were divisive. That definitely was not our intention.”

Even in Kentucky, the home of Senator Mitch McConnell, it is dangerous to mix business and politics when the real touchdown is about padding the bottom line – not slicing it up.




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What do you think?