BY: ALEXIS FOSTER
Papa John's has faced serious backlash after blaming declining pizza sales on recent protests within the NFL. Alt-right news website The Daily Stormer even published a photo of a pizza with pieces of pepperoni arranged in the shape of a swastika and the caption, "Papa John's: Official pizza of the right?," Newsweek reported.
Although the pizza chain has officially denied any connections with the alt-right, Papa John's CEO John Schnatter has been criticized for his tone-deaf statement about what has been going on in the NFL.
As official pizza sponsor of the NFL, Papa John's claims the protests and the NFL's response are having an impact on sales.
"Leadership starts at the top, and this is an example of poor leadership," Schnatter said on Nov. 1 on a conference call with investors. "The NFL has hurt Papa John's shareholders."
The NFL has not forced players to stand during the anthem, despite President Trump urging NFL team owners to fire players who protest during the national anthem. According to Schnatter, the protests " should have been nipped in the bud a year-and-a-half ago.
It was not long before the topic trended on Twitter. Many expressed outrage in response to the questionable correlation. Others suggested boycotting the franchise, using the hashtag #BoycottPapaJohns.
Papa Johns is pitiful for blaming its declining sales on black athletes that are taking a knee to speak out against social injustice & police brutality. #BoycottPapaJohns— Simar (@sahluwal) November 1, 2017
In contrast to the backlash, neo-Nazis showed their support by labeling Papa John's pizza the "official pizza of the alt-right." Alt-right groups are supporting the company by ordering pizzas and urging others to do the same.
Papa Johns pulled all ads and told the unpatriotic NFL to hit the road. Order a Papa Johns pizza to show your support!!— ðŸŒ¹ARI ðŸ’¯Russian BOT (@ari_russian) November 1, 2017
The alt-right laying claim to Papa John's has put the pizza chain in even more hot water. Papa John's released a statement dismissing alt-right claims. The company told hate groups not to buy its pizza because it does not want their business. However, the association between Papa John's and neo-Nazism persists, as people continue to mention the two in the same breath via Twitter.
Nazi white supremacists claim @PapaJohns as their official pizza. Time for a boycott folks!— Marina Sirtis (@Marina_Sirtis) November 5, 2017
This is not the first time Papa John's commentary created controversy. Schnatter is an open supporter of the Trump administration and has been outspoken about other political issues. When Obamacare was introduced in 2012, Schnatter expressed his disapproval of the healthcare program and warned customers of rising prices for having to insure his employees.
Other pizza chains may profit from Papa John's current reputation. DiGiorno Pizza got in on the outrage by throwing shade at Papa John's on Twitter.
The heat is on as Papa John's scrambles to cover its image, while other pizzerias such as Pizza Hut are promoting discounts on the same articles that talk about the controversy. If you want a slice of the half-priced shade, now is the time to place an order.