GREENVILLE, S.C., November 12, 2012 — Supporters of Papa John’s Pizza are countering a movement to boycott the popular chain by founding a National Papa John’s Appreciation Day.
In 1984, John Schnatter sold his prized possession: a 1971 Chevrolet Camaro Z28. With the proceeds, he set out to become an entrepreneur, transforming a tavern into a pizza restaurant. Today, he is better known as “Papa John.”
Twenty-eight years and over 3,500 franchises later, Papa John’s has become a leader in the pizza restaurant industry. John Schnatter has been wildly successful and is reported with varying net worths — between $250 Million and $600 Million. While Papa John is now a wealthy CEO, he is also a philanthropist, donating millions to causes of which he approves, including over $20 million to the University of Louisville.
Recently, however, Papa John has come under fire for his comments about ObamaCare. ObamaCare is expected to hit Papa John’s with recurring costs of $5-8 million per year. Schnatter has said that he intends to pass along the costs of ObamaCare to the consumer, as any normal business would. He mentioned that the total cost of ObamaCare will be an estimated 15 to 20 cents per order. “Unfortunately, I don’t think people know what they’re going to pay for this.”
Most recently, he claimed that many of Papa John’s franchises are considering cutting employees hours in order to pay for ObamaCare. Papa John is not alone in this. ObamaCare will require businesses large and small to pay extra costs for healthcare. Hundreds of other businesses have released similar statements about the law that kicks into effect soon. These businesses will not be able to hire or will have to fire employees as a result.
His observation of the costs of ObamaCare has been taken as a political statement. Many leftists have demanded that he pick up the costs of ObamaCare with his own hefty fortune, rather than building it into the cost of the pizza or cutting employees’ hours.
He has been demonized for “punishing his employees.” A look at the Papa John’s Facebook page will demonstrate a popular newfound hatred of both John Schnatter and Papa John’s pizza from supporters of ObamaCare. A “greedy and uncaring” CEO can give away two million pizzas as a promotion, yet he can not pull money from his “overflowing pockets” to “heal people,” or to help his employees get “healthcare.” People are vowing never to buy from Papa John’s again because of Mr. Schnatter’s views on ObamaCare.
However, an effort is rapidly growing to start an anti-boycott movement. A group known as @Reboot_USA recently started the National Papa John’s Appreciation Day event on Facebook. The event has been wildly popular, garnering over 6000 attendees in less than a day. The event encourages people to like Papa John’s on Facebook, buy from Papa John’s on Friday, November 16th, share pizza with the homeless, unemployed, and the struggling, and post pictures on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #IStandWithPapaJohns
Defenders of the solidarity movement claim that Papa John was just being realistic when he commented on ObamaCare. They point out that Papa John is not punishing employees, as he is not withdrawing a current benefit. Rather, he is being realistic about how to factor in the actual costs of ObamaCare.
Even if Papa John’s bought health insurance for employees (instead of paying fines), the profit margin would necessarily be cut so much that Papa John’s would have to let off employees. Some customers would gladly pay an extra 15 cents per pizza for Papa John’s employees to have healthcare insurance. However, supporters explain that the market has set a price at equilibrium, and not enough others would pay the extra 15 cents instead of buying a substitute to make up for the lost bottom-line profit. This will naturally lead to a necessary reduction of employee hours.
Supporters also counter that Papa John’s is a publicly traded company. Therefore, profits not only go to Papa John, but also to employees and middle-income families that own 401Ks and mutual funds that own stock in Papa John’s. Boycotting Papa John’s is actually hurting the very employees whom boycotters are claiming to support.
Successful entrepreneur and philanthropist John Schnatter has been working to present the American Red Cross with $1 Million for efforts following Hurricane Sandy’s devastation. Papa John may be successful and wealthy like his new enemies assert, but is he truly greedy, cruel and evil as well? Did he build that?
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