The Yum subsidiary is the new pizza sponsor of the NFL. | Courtesy of Pizza Hut

Less than a day after Papa John’s announced that it had agreed to mutually part ways with the NFL, Pizza Hut, another pizza chain with local ties has stepped in to fill the triangle-shaped void.

The company, which is a Texas-based subsidiary of Louisville’s Yum Brands, announced Wednesday morning that it is now the official pizza sponsor of the NFL for the coming 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 joint news release. “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.”

Louisville-based Papa John’s was the official pizza sponsor of the NFL for seven years but cut ties with the NFL recently following controversial comments made by founder John Schnatter, who later stepped down as CEO of the chain. However, Papa John’s executives said they would still advertise with NFL teams and players.

The multiyear sponsorship agreement will give Pizza Hut exclusive marketing rights, benefits and designations, including collective use of all 32 team logos, that tie the brand with the NFL, its teams, players and various events and experiences, the release states. It does not say the value of the deal.

“NFL stadiums are packed every week, but tens of millions of fans are also watching the game at home,” Artie Starrs, president of Pizza Hut U.S., said in the release. “We have an unmatched ability to bring those fans closer to the sport thanks to the power of our 7,500 restaurants and 150,000 football-crazed team members. The capacity for what’s possible is endless and that’s going to make this league partnership great fun for Pizza Hut, the NFL and everyone who loves pizza and football.”

The chain will be able leverage game tickets and unique fan experiences to all NFL games in marketing and promotional campaigns throughout each year, the release states.

“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,” Pizza Hut franchise owner Andy Rosen said in the release.

Current and former NFL players took to Twitter to congratulate Pizza Hut on the new partnership.

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Caitlin Bowling
Louisville native Caitlin Bowling has covered the local restaurant and retail scene since 2014. After graduating from the Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, Caitlin got her start at a newspaper in the mountains of North Carolina where she won multiple state awards for her reporting. Since returning to Louisville, she’s written for Business First and Insider Louisville, winning awards for health and business reporting and becoming a go-to source for business news. In addition to restaurants and retail business, Caitlin covers real estate, economic development and tourism. Email Caitlin at [email protected]