The pizza chain distanced itself from the far-right movement that attached itself to the company after the CEO criticized NFL national-anthem protests.
Papa John's on Tuesday sought to distance itself from the political far-right movement that has associated itself with the pizza chain following controversial remarks from its CEO, John Schnatter, who previously railed against NFL players' national-anthem demonstrations.
"We believe in the right to protest inequality and support the players' movement to create a new platform for change," the company tweeted Tuesday. "We also believe together, as Americans, we should honor our anthem. There is a way to do both."
During the call with investors in early November, Schnatter said the company, which has an exclusive partnership with the NFL, was "totally disappointed" by the organization's leadership.
The controversy had its origins last year when Colin Kaepernick, the quarterback then playing for the San Francisco 49ers, took a knee during the national anthem before games to protest killings of unarmed black men by the police. A handful of players continued the protest this season, and it was magnified in September when President Donald Trump took issue with the method of protest.
"This should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago," Schnatter reportedly said during the November 1 call. "Leadership starts at the top, and this is an example of poor leadership."
Far-right groups took note of the sentiment and floated the idea that the pizza chain may have been the "official pizza of the alt right."
Papa John's statement on Twitter comes amid a sales slump for the pizza chain. The Business Insider retail reporter Kate Taylor noted last week that 18 other NFL sponsors refused to say whether they were reevaluating their NFL sponsorship deals or experiencing a negative sales impact attributed to the protests among NFL players.