Meanwhile, NFL ratings have also fallen-a point that Papa John's has also blamed on the ongoing protests - which presumably also lowers the number of people watching the chain's ads and eating its pizza.
On Wednesday, the Louisville, Ky. -based company reported a 1.6% increase in third-quarter profit. The news sent Papa John's stock into a tumble, closing Wednesday at 62.26, down almost 9 percent from a week ago.
"This should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago", Schnatter added.
The NFL did not immediately respond to FOX Business' request for comment.More news: Jahlil Okafor may request buyout from Philadelphia 76ers
NFL viewership is down so far this season, marking the second consecutive year that the league has seen its television audience decline.
NFL owners and executives have been scrambling to determine the best response to players kneeling during the national anthem this season, a movement started past year by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to denounce police brutality against African-Americans, social injustice and racial inequality. And surely some of those unordered pizzas would have come from Papa John's, which enjoys a close connection with the National Football League through omnipresent ads. Last month, Vice President Mike Pence left an Indianapolis Colts game after San Francisco 49ers' players took a knee during the anthem. The stock is down 24% this year, while competitors including Domino's have performed well (Domino's stock is up 12% this year).
Discussing a tangible drop in sales, Schnatter was adamant that 'the national anthem protests have been. hurting business'. "The controversy is polarizing the customer, polarizing the country".
John Schnatter, founder and CEO of Papa John's, called out NFL leadership during an earnings call Wednesday morning, saying the league's national anthem player protests have "hurt" his company, according to CNBC. "Sponsorship of NFL = No Free Lunch". For Papa John's the equation is simple: Fewer viewers equals fewer pizza orders.