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Now Chicken Wing Producers Are Whining Over NFL Protests

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The game-day-foods industry is being hit hard

A pile of chicken wings Photo by Jeff Fusco/Getty Images

Another food behemoth is blaming slumping sales on protests at National Football League games. Sanderson Farms, a poultry outfit headquartered in Laurel, Mississippi, is pointing to the protests, in which some NFL players kneel during the pre-game national anthem, as a possible reason for a recent decline, reports Fortune.

“The only thing puzzling me right now is wings,” chief executive officer Joe F. Sanderson Jr. said in an earnings call on Thursday. “It’s just been reported to us that some of our customers think that their traffic is down because of the demonstrations by some of the NFL players.”

Chicken wing sales are down 14 percent compared to this time last year, according to Fortune.

Players who have participated in the protests say they are not meant to be perceived as anti-military or anti-American, but instead are intended to raise awareness for social injustices faced by African Americans. But after President Donald Trump made a big deal about the issue and called the players “sons of bitches” during a harangue at a rally in September, conservative football fans have blamed the protests for the NFL’s flagging television ratings (though that doesn’t tell the whole story). It appears they are becoming a popular excuse for purveyors of game-day foods, too.

During an earnings call for a down quarter in November, Papa John’s CEO “Papa” John Schnatter said the anthem-kneeling “should have been nipped in the bud” and that it caused “negative consumer sentiment.” This led to Papa John’s getting roasted on Twitter and earning the endorsement of white supremacists across America.

First Pizza Complained. Now the NFL Is Getting Heat for Hurting Chicken Wing Sales [Fortune]
NFL protests 2017: What are players protesting when kneeling for the national anthem? [SB Nation]
The NFL's Ratings Are Down. But National Anthem Protests Aren't the Whole Story. [Vox]
Papa John’s Blames NFL Protests for Falling Sales [E]