Papa John's Apologizes for Blaming NFL Player Protests on Declining Sales

Pizza company also gave neo-Nazis the middle finger in their apology after 'The Daily Stormer' declared them "official pizza of the alt-right"

Apology comes two weeks after Papa John's founder and CEO John Schnatter blamed the NFL for the company's drop in sales because of the ongoing player protests. Credit: Luke Sharrett/Getty Images

In a series of tweets on Tuesday, Papa John's apologized for making "divisive" comments, saying they believe in the right to protest inequality and support the "players' movement to create a new platform for change." The pizza chain also gave neo-Nazis the middle finger in their apology after white supremacist site The Daily Stormer declared Papa John's the "official pizza of the alt-right."

The apology comes two weeks after Papa John's founder and CEO John Schnatter blamed the NFL for the company's drop in sales because of the ongoing player protests. Papa John’s responded by removing their description as the official pizza company of the NFL – a title they have held since 2010 – and the NFL logo from their television commercials, according to Snopes. They didn't, however, completely end their advertising relationship with the NFL.

"This should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago," Schnatter said during an earnings call on November 1st. "The controversy is polarizing the customer, polarizing the country."

As ESPN notes, Papa John's shares are down 12 percent since that call. In addition to their apology, Papa John's responded to Twitter users throughout the day. They agreed that their statement "took too long" and said they are "working with the players and league" to figure out a way in which they can protest inequality and honor the anthem at the same time. "Working to make it right," the company tweeted. "First step is to clarify our position."