Papa John's

The National Football League (NFL) will no longer be official partners with Papa John’s Pizza, after eight years of doing business together.

According to ESPN, Papa John’s CEO Steve Ritchie told investors on a recent conference call that the NFL is parting ways with the pizza chain, and will have a new pizza sponsor to replace Papa John’s before the kickoff of the 2018 season. In a joint statement, the NFL and Papa John’s said that while the chain will no longer serve as the official sponsor, ongoing sponsorships with various teams will remain in place.

“The NFL and Papa John’s have made a mutual decision to shift from their official league sponsorship to a focus on partnerships with 22 local NFL teams, presence in broadcast and digital media, and key personalities in the sport,” the statement read.

No matter how you slice it, the previous NFL season was the worst on record for Papa John’s. Last November, founder John Schnatter torpedoed his company’s stock price after he blamed the pizza chain’s lagging sales on NFL players kneeling during the national anthem in solidarity with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

“This should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago,” Schnatter said on a November investors’ call.

Two weeks later, Papa John’s stock price fell by double digits, and the company responded by forcing out Schnatter as CEO and replacing him with Ritchie. However, Schnatter remains chairman of the board and is still the company’s largest shareholder, controlling roughly 25 percent of the company’s total shares.

However, that isn’t the first time Schnatter put his foot in his mouth and cost his company. In 2012, the pizza mogul famously said that he would cut workers’ hours at company stores in order to avoid having them qualify for mandatory employer-provided health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Schnatter, in the meantime, has a net worth of roughly $1 billion, according to Forbes.


Logan Espinoza is a freelance contributor specializing in economic issues. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona with his wife and daughter. Contact him at logan DOT espinoza AT yahoo DOT com.

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