Pizza Hut Takes Over From Papa John's as the Official Pizza of the NFL

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Credit: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg

Pizza Hut, hungry for a sales boost, has become the next official pizza of the National Football League.

The deal was announced by the No. 2 U.S. pizza chain and the NFL early Wednesday, the day after Papa John's and the NFL broke up following what became a contentious relationship in 2017.

Pizza Hut's multi-year deal gives it category exclusivity across national platforms, beginning with the 2018 NFL Draft in Texas in late April.

"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. Goodell went on to say that "Pizza Hut has the creativity we are looking for in a partner."

Pizza Hut gets collective use of all 32 NFL team marks. It also says the NFL will work closely with the chain "to facilitate local, exclusive team partnerships." Meanwhile, Papa John's said Tuesday it would continue to have marketing relationships with 22 of the teams. It's unclear which teams will side with which chains. Pizza Hut is based in Plano, Texas, near the Dallas Cowboys.

For Pizza Hut, the deal comes soon after Domino's leaped over it to become the largest U.S. pizza chain based on 2017 sales. Pizza Hut already has sports ties as the official pizza of the NCAA in a multiyear deal that began in 2016.

The NFL deal is "a tremendous opening for a brand and product that is so neatly aligned with the football-watching occassion," Pizza Hut said in a statement from U.S. President Artie Starrs and Franchise Board of Directors Chairman Andy Rosen.

Pizza Hut has more than 7,500 restaurants in the U.S.

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