Papa John’s Apologizes for Politicizing Your Pizza: ‘Definitely Was Not Our Intention’

Pizza company gives a middle finger emoji to neo-Nazis along the way

Take A Knee NFL

Papa John’s Pizza has apologized for comments from CEO John Schnatter that blamed poor sales on the NFL protests.

“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 said in a statement on Twitter Tuesday afternoon — two weeks after Schnatter’s much discussed earnings call.

The statement went on to say that the pizza company believes in the “right to protest inequality and support the players’ movement to create a new platform for change,” but said there is a way to protest along with honoring the National Anthem.

“We will work with the players and league to find a positive way forward,” the statement finished. “Open to ideas from all. Except neo-nazis — ??-?those guys.”

“The NFL has hurt us,” Schnatter said during a call with media analysts last month. “And more importantly, by not resolving the current debacle to the players and owners satisfaction, NFL leadership has hurt Papa John’s shareholders.”

“This should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago,” he added, referring to the divisive nature of the ongoing player protests, which started quietly last August and picked up steam this season.

Schnatter’s comments were widely mocked, from NFL viewers on Twitter to late night hosts. Other pizza companies also got in on their competitor’s faux pas:

And just this week, Ellen DeGeneres featured a fake commercial for a bipartisan pizza shop:

Papa John’s is the National Football League’s official pizza partner, and retired NFL quarterback Peyton Manning is the pizza company’s paid spokesperson.