Pizza Hut replaces Papa John’s as NFL corporate sponsor

Pizza Hut replaces Papa John’s as NFL corporate sponsor

Within a day of the National Football League and Papa John’s (PZZA) calling it quits on a long-lasting corporate sponsorship, Yum Brand’s (YUM) Pizza Hut has filled the still-warm spot.

The NFL and Pizza Hut announced their multiyear deal, reportedly slated to last through the 2021 season, in a statement Wednesday morning. The pact gives the Plano, Texas-based chain exclusive deals with the NFL’s 32 teams. The deal starts with the 2018 NFL draft.

“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.” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in the statement.

Papa John’s has been the league’s official sponsor since 2010. Its founder, John Schnatter, had blamed a the company’s sales slump on a protest by NFL players, who had kneeled during the national anthem. Ousted as CEO in January, Schnatter remains on Papa John’s board of directors.

“NFL leadership has hurt Papa John’s shareholders,” Schnatter said on a November call with analysts. “This should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago.”

Papa John’s on Wednesday reported fourth-quarter earnings below Wall Street expectations, with its shares down more than 5 percent in premarket trading. 

Pizza Hut is the largest pizza chain in the United States with more than 7,500 stores.

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