The NFL may be at risk of losing one of their biggest advertisers, Papa Johns. And apparently after controversial national anthem protest comments from the pizza chain’s CEO, they’re hurting even more, with the CEO losing $70 million in net worth in just one day after throwing the league under the bus.
In their third quarter earnings call, Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter claimed that the ongoing NFL protests have affected his company’s earnings, and that they will be pulling some of their advertising associated with the NFL.
ESPN’s Darren Rovell detailed more:
“Leadership starts at the top and this is an example of poor leadership,” Schnatter said, noting he thought the issue had been “nipped in the bud” a year and a half ago.
In revising sales estimates for the next quarter, Papa John’s president and chief operating officer Steve Ritchie said on the call that the NFL deal was the primary suspect behind the decline and that “we expect it to persist unless a solution is put in place.”
The protests started a year and a half ago, when then San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee as a form of protest of racial inequalities. However, more NFL players have started to protest this season, with those protests involving more of a political statement against President Donald Trump and NFL ownership instead of what Kaepernick originally started last year.
This may be the most interesting test for the NFL yet with regards to these protests. While some NFL leadership has been upset with the protests, the league has generally been allowing them to continue happening. The potential cost of a major advertiser could be a cause for the NFL to change their position and act more defiantly on the protests.