“Papa” John Schnatter, CEO of pizza chain Papa John’s, has always been an outspoken conservative, and often said somewhat outrageous things, from his outcry that providing basic healthcare for employees would raise the price of pizza a whole fourteen cents to saying he enjoys a business model of massively overpricing pizza.
His latest hot take delivered to your doorstep with a pepperoncini? That the NFL controversy over kneeling during the national anthem is the cause of his lackluster sales (Papa John’s is an NFL sponsor).
Predictably, Twitter did it’s thing.
Some users suggested that maybe John’s problem is that we’re just not that into his pizza.
Papa Johns pizza tastes like scapegoat cheese with ketchup on a crust of stale excuses.
— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) November 1, 2017
Or maybe it's because your pizza tastes like an old pair of flip flops. https://t.co/8hJ4YpXByx
— 👻Imani Gandy👻 (@AngryBlackLady) November 1, 2017
Papa Johns tastes like a U-Haul seat cushion
— Roy Wood Jr- Ex Jedi (@roywoodjr) November 1, 2017
LOL @ Papa Johns blaming the NFL for their poor sales. 😂😂 The fact that their pizza is complete garbage couldn't possibly be a factor.
— 👻 mmmmK (@RedPenRants) November 1, 2017
Papa Johns: “Our crappy pizza has nothing to do with our crappy pizza sales.”
— Andie 🍂 (@andrea_kate_) November 1, 2017
Maybe Papa Johns should blame their shitty sales on the fact that their pizza tastes like the box its delivered in
— Yesha (@YeshaCallahan) November 1, 2017
Nice try, Papa Johns, but last I checked protesting racial injustice doesn't cause diarrhea, your pizza does.
— The Incredible Sulk (@TurnUp_TheTweet) November 1, 2017
All Papa Johns is doing is announcing itself as the official pizza of Trump supporters. Let's move along, continue not eating their product.
— Adam Best (@adamcbest) November 1, 2017
Others have suggested the history of championing far-right causes is the real culprit.
Papa Johns pizza is as "authentic" as the president. It lies to you about how good it is and it's a cheap knock off of the real thing.
— Jimmy from the BX (@BloodwingBX) November 1, 2017
CEO of Papa Johns donated to Trump, so not surprised his sales numbers are down. Supporting extremists bad for biz. https://t.co/5jw7q3LZek
— Shannon Coulter (@shannoncoulter) November 1, 2017
Papa Johns only sells white pizza now.
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) November 1, 2017
Papa Johns founder who pretends to be a working class hero, is actually, a privileged capitalist jerk. pic.twitter.com/2ibpOCIYLt
— Nerf the Earth (@nerfburglar) November 1, 2017
Papa Johns blames falling pizza sales on NFL players' protests. Really? I could have sworn it was Obama's fault. #WednesdayWisdom
— John Lundin (@johnlundin) November 1, 2017
This what papa johns be cooking and they wonder why they sales down pic.twitter.com/DVmEfa44GL
— Nate (@BravesBama16) November 1, 2017
AYO PAPA JOHNS, U CAN USE THOSE LIL WHITE TABLES TO HOLD YOUR SO-CALLED "PIZZA" DOWN, BUT NOT THE REST OF US
— Aparna Nancherla (@aparnapkin) November 1, 2017
And still others think the NFL is probably the most absurd scapegoat Johnny could’ve chosen.
— GQ Magazine (@GQMagazine) November 1, 2017
"Papa Johns? Yeah, I'll have a large peppero—"
[I remember the NFL's catch rule is poorly worded and inconsistently applied]
— Rodger Sherman (@rodger_sherman) November 1, 2017
I am to understand, Papa Johns, that a kneeling NFL player forced you to dump tomato water on powdery cardboard, thus hurting your sales?
— Richard Jeter (@MilesToGo13) November 1, 2017
Papa John’s even lost a customer from the extremely rare “person who actually likes Papa John’s” demographic.
Wow. And I actually liked your pizza. You just lost a customer asshole. John Schnatter and "Papa Johns" can suck it!
— Nicole Huggins (@nikki_huggins93) November 1, 2017
Many professional football players have continued to kneel during the singing of the national anthem as a means of raising awareness about police killing African Americans with impunity since former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick became the first to do so in 2016.
Most recently, nearly the entire Houston Texans roster took a knee after remarks by team owner Bob McNair equating NFL players’ protests to “inmates” “run[ning] the prison.” While McNair has apologized for his words, players have vowed to continue their silent protest during the anthem, saying McNair’s comments are only further proof that their protest is necessary.
For the record, NFL players taking a knee hasn’t harmed the business of Papa John’s competitor Domino’s Pizza, which posted a strong quarter last month. The NFL’s ratings have been in a slump this year, with the protests and feelings engendered on both sides of the political spectrum seen as the primary culprit.
Katelyn Kivel is a journalist and political scientist in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.