Papa John’s apologizes for saying anthem protests hurt sales

Apparently Papa John's doesn't believe two weeks is too late to say sorry.

The popular pizza chain apologized in a string of tweets Tuesday night for comments made on a Nov. 1 conference call with shareholders where CEO and TV pitchman John Schnatter insinuated the ongoing anthem protests have hurt his business.

"The statements made on our earnings call were describing the factors that impact our business and we sincerely apologize to anyone that thought they were divisive. That definitely was not our intention," Papa John's wrote.

"We believe in the right to protest inequality and support the players' movement to create a new platform for change. We also believe together, as Americans, we should honor our anthem. There is a way to do both."

21 PHOTOS
Twitter reacts to Papa John's pizza feud
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Twitter reacts to Papa John's pizza feud
If y’all think papa johns is better than Pizza Hut you gotta go
All jokes aside. Pizza Hut really playing the game well. This is chess not checkers and it was smart move
@BL_St1 @PalmerReport @thenatealdridge Omg! My kids love PJs pizza. We can’t order from there anymore. They will ju… https://t.co/xSqNpGVfyz
The CEO of Pizza Hut just called Papa John, flushed a toilet, then hung up.
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“Better hide your money. There’s poor people ‘round... witcha broke ass.” - Pizza Hut CEO to Papa John
@businessinsider Pizza Hut,,,,welcome to the resistance
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I BEEN saying Pizza hut >> Papa Johns 😂
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"Can't Relate" - Pizza hut CEO
Actual thought I had today: Pizza Hut retains the high moral ground relating to protests of violent police overreach.
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HIM: So which side do you support politically? ME: Pizza Hut.
Pizza Hut just endorsed protesting the National Anthem
Papa Johns blaming black people on why they pizza not selling and not the fact that it cost as much as two pizzas f… https://t.co/lo2Tz4OByv
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Schnatter previously blamed commissioner Roger Goodell for allowing the anthem protests to continue rather than take a harsher stance against the demonstrations. Schnatter believes the anthem protests turned fans away from the game and, as a result, caused a decline in pizza sales.

"The NFL has hurt us," Schnatter said. "We are disappointed the NFL and its leadership did not resolve this."

Papa John's also told their shareholders the company had decided to pull much of its NFL advertising and the NFL gave the pizza maker credits for future ad spots.

"Leadership starts at the top and this is an example of poor leadership," Schnatter said.

Declining viewership and loss of advertising revenue were previously raised as major concerns by Jerry Jones, Dan Snyder and other NFL owners regarding potential negative consequences of the ongoing anthem protests.

Many fans on both sides of the national anthem protests debate have took to boycotting the NFL -- with some saying they refuse to watch another game until Colin Kaepernick is signed, while others say they'll continue to boycott the NFL until the anthem protests end.

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Fans react to NFL players protesting during national anthem
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Fans react to NFL players protesting during national anthem
Oct 8, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans fan holds up signs before the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 01: A fan in the stands yells at players during the national anthem prior to the game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Buffalo Bills at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 01: A Cleveland Browns fan holds a sign in protest durning the nation anthem in the game between the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Justin Aller /Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 01: Fans making a statement about the recent national anthem protests during a football game at NRG Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - OCTOBER 01: A detail view of a sign displayed by fans during a game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 01: Fans making a statement about the recent national anthem protests during a football game at NRG Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Los Angeles Charger fans make their way to the stadium past Donald Frazell from Los Angeles as he holds a sign near other protesters demonstrating in support of NFL players who "take a knee" before kickoff and during the National Anthem protesting police violence outside the StubHub Center where the Los Angeles Chargers are playing the Philadelphia Eagles in an NFL football game in Carson, California, U.S. October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok
Oct 1, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos fans show their support with t-shirts in reference to standing for the American national anthem during the fourth quarter of a game against the Oakland Raiders at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 24, 2017; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers fans hold up signs in the fourth quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 24, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Cleveland Browns fans during their game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 24, 2017; Foxborough, MA, USA; A New England Patriots fan holds a sign as they take on the Houston Texans in the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 25: Fans hold signs before the singing of the National Anthem before the NFL game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Dallas Cowboys at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 25, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
At the start of the game protestors take a knee in support of the movement started by NFL player Colin Kaepernick, outside Lincoln Financial Field, in South Philadelphia, PA, on September 24, 2017. Similar protest are staged around the nation after US President Donald Trump named Kaepernick a Son of A Bitch at a recent rally. (Photo by Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 8: A fan of the Cincinnati Bengals holds up a sign showing his opposition to players kneeling during the national anthem during the game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Buffalo Bills at Paul Brown Stadium on October 8, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
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Although the controversy surrounding the anthem protests is quickly singled out as a major reason behind the NFL's declining viewership -- ratings were down 5% overall through Week 7 compared to the same point last year -- network TV viewership is down overall. The four major networks (NBC, CBS, ABC and Fox) are all suffering declining viewership, according to CNN.

While Papa John's previously blamed the anthem protests for their declining pizza sales, they now say they will work with the NFL and players in order to move forward in a "positive" manner.

"We will work with the players and league to find a positive way forward. Open to ideas from all. Except neo-nazis - (middle finger emoji) those guys."Several prominent figures criticized Schnatter for his initial insensitive comments, insinuating that pizza sales are more important than taking a stand against racism and police brutality -- the reasons behind the majority of players protesting during the anthem

"Sorry racial injustice couldn't be ended as easily as adding an extra topping and a side of ranch," ESPN reporter Jemele Hill wrote on Twitter on Nov. 1.

Hill also commented on the apology posted by Papa John's Tuesday, writing, "This is peak 2017."

8 PHOTOS
John Schnatter, Papa John's pizza founder
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John Schnatter, Papa John's pizza founder
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 31: John H. Schnatter, Founder, Chairman & CEO of Papa John's International, Inc. rings the NASDAQ Opening Bell at NASDAQ MarketSite on January 31, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 24: Papa John's founder and CEO John Schnatter attends the Indy 500 on May 23, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
PARK CITY, UT - DECEMBER 06: John Schnatter attends the Deer Valley Celebrity Skifest held at the Silver Lake Lodge in Deer Valley on December 6, 2014 in Park City, Utah (Photo by Mark Davis/Getty Images)
PARK CITY, UT - DECEMBER 05: (L-R) Actress Eloise Broady, John Schnatter and John Paul DeJoria attend the Deer Valley Celebrity Skifest held at the Empire Lodge on December 5, 2014 in Park City, Utah (Photo by Mark Davis/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 31: John H. Schnatter, Founder, Chairman & CEO of Papa John's International, Inc. rings the NASDAQ Opening Bell at NASDAQ MarketSite on January 31, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - OCTOBER 29: Founder of Papa John's John Schnatter speaks onstage at the Spider-Man and Papa John's Pizza's announcement of 'Hometown Super-Heroes' in Times Square October 29, 2007 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 06: Paps John's CEO John Schnatter attends the 132nd Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 6, 2006 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images)
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