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Papa John’s sales have been in trouble since Jerry Jones stopped rapping

Wall Street missed the chain’s big issue.

Papa John’s is in the news this week after founder John Schnatter blamed the crash of his stock on player protests in the NFL. Don’t let his claims distract you from the fact that he had an ad in 2012 with Jerry Jones rapping in it:

This commercial was a pivotal moment in Papa John’s history. Released in August of 2012, the stock price of the Louisville-based pizza chain was sitting at $26.44. Less than a year later, it had skyrocketed to $46 a share.

These two things might seem like they have no link whatsoever, but Papa John himself believes that unconnected events in the NFL can hurt his profits. So using transitive property, I’m comfortable saying unequivocally that the only reason Papa John’s hit the pizza stratosphere was because of the Jerry rap.

We can see by this graph that every year, stock prices soar shortly before the anniversary of Jerry Raps, with possible pizza consumers amped to see the tycoon hit the mic. Then the ad doesn’t play, and suddenly there’s disappointment and a lack of consumer confidence.

Schnatter can blame NFL player protests all he wants, but deep down he knows that the real culprit behind his tumbling stock is the fact that Jones hasn’t rapped in five years. It’s a terrible problem for the company to have, because its stock has been forever linked to “Hip-Hop Jerry.” It’s just that nobody was willing to see it.

The only way Schnatter can save Papa John’s is to convince Jerry to come out of retirement and get back on the mic. Pizza Hut isn’t seeing a sales decline because of protests, and neither is DiGiorno. It’s because those companies don’t operate on a rapping-Jerry-based economy.

With stock tumbling and no signs of Jerry resuming his music career, things are only going to get worse before they get better. Forever, Papa John’s tag line has been “Better Ingredients. Better Pizza,” but little did the company know its most important ingredient was a 75-year-old billionaire living in Texas.

h/t @GenePark