- By Kelcie Willis, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
Pizza Hut is replacing Papa John’s as a sponsor of the National Football League. CNBC reported that the Yum! Brands subsidiary was announced as the official pizza sponsor of the NFL Wednesday.
The news comes a day after Papa John’s and the NFL mutually decided to end their relationship. Papa John’s was the official pizza of the league since 2010.
“The NFL and Papa John's have made a mutual decision to shift from their official league sponsorship to a focus on partnerships with 22 local NFL teams, presence in broadcast and digital media, and key personalities in the sport,” the league and company said in a joint statement Tuesday, according to ESPN.
In 2017, the brand drew controversy when its former CEO, founder John Schnatter, blamed slow pizza sales on protests from NFL players during an earnings call in November.
“The NFL has hurt us by not resolving the current debacle to the players’ and owners’ satisfaction,” Schnatter said, according to reports. “NFL leadership has hurt Papa John’s shareholders.”
Schnatter and Papa John’s apologized for the comments weeks later, but damage was already done.
Pizza Hut now has a multiyear agreement with the league, starting with the 2018 season.
“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,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement Wednesday. “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.”
“The opportunity to align in an official capacity with the NFL is a tremendous opening for a brand and product that is so neatly aligned with the football-watching occasion like pizza and Pizza Hut,” Andy Rosen, Pizza Hut franchise owner and Franchise Board of Directors Chairman said in a news release. “Our system is aligned behind and thrilled about this partnership. No one better understands the essence of Pizza Hut, including our consumers, than our group of owners and team members.”
Pizza Hut will make its partnership debut during the 2018 NFL Draft in Dallas, Texas.