The National Football League has officially traded Papa John's for Pizza Hut as its official pizza sponsor.
After eight years together, the dissolution of the sponsorship between Papa John's and the NFL may have been something to be expected for some time now. Papa John's has been under fire since November 2017 when former CEO John Schnatter blamed poor pizza sales on the National Anthem protests by NFL players. According to Bangor Daily News, Schnatter blamed poor leadership from higher officials of the NFL for the players who knelt during the National Anthem to protest against racial discrimination, injustice, and inequality. Tension continued to build as Neo-Nazis claimed Papa John's as the "Official Pizza of Aryan Race," and eventually, Schnatter stepped down from his position in January 2018.
However, Papa John's isn't totally nixed from any involvement with the NFL. According to the Washington Post, there will continue to be partnerships with 22 local NFL teams, and will focus on a “presence in broadcast and digital media and key personalities in the sport.”
Nevertheless, the NFL seems to have made the best, most logical choice in choosing Pizza Hut to be it's newest official pizza for the next four years, starting April 2018. The pizza giant is the largest pizza chain in the United States, totaling over 7,200 locations, according to the Washington Post.
"We know many of our fans enjoy pizza while watching NFL games and we are thrilled to have Pizza Hut, an industry leader and one of America's favorite brands, as an official league sponsor," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in an official statement. "With a focus on family, friends and fun, Pizza Hut has the creativity we are looking for in a partner and we look forward to working together with them to make the at-home NFL experience more exciting than ever for our fans."
If an "at-home NFL experience" is what they're aiming for, Pizza Hut may already have the ball rolling. After all, Pizza Hut has been testing out beer and wine delivery, allowing consumers to kill two birds with one stone. But sensing from the enthusiasm of Artie Starrs, President of Pizza Hut U.S., that may just be the beginning.
"Pizza Hut has a history of bringing more entertaining food and experiences to the pizza occasion and we plan to continue that through our exclusive partnership with the NFL," said Starrs. "The capacity for what's possible is endless and that's going to make this league partnership great fun for Pizza Hut, the NFL and everyone who loves pizza and football."