Papa John's

Papa John's

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Updated Feb 25, 2020 at 03:20AM EST by Y F.

Added Nov 06, 2017 at 11:42AM EST by Matt.

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Papa John's is the third largest take-out and pizza delivery fast food restaurant chain in the United States. With more than 4,700 locations around the world, the restaurant has also been attached to a number of political controversies, surrounding company policy and founder John Schnatter's public comments.


On October 2nd, 1984, John Schnatter founded the first Papa John's Pizza by selling pizza out of a converted broom closet at Schnatter's father's tavern, Mick's Lounge, in Jeffersonville, Indiana. Schnatter infamously sold his 1971 Camaro Z28 for $1,600 to purchase the materials to start the company. In 2009, he found the long-lost camaro and purchased the car back for $250,000.[9]

In 2001, Papa John's became the first pizza chain to offer national online ordering. Six years later, it became the first chain to offer SMS text message ordering.

In September 2012, the company opened its 4,000th location and celebrated by giving away 4,000 pizza throughout New York City.

2012 Papa John's Boycott

Papa John’s Boycott refers to an online campaign against the take-out and pizza delivery restaurant chain Papa John’s Pizza. The boycott was launched in November of 2012 in response to statements by Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter regarding the health care reform legislation known as Patient Protection and Afforable Care Act (also known as Obamacare).

2017 #TakeAKnee Controversy

On November 1st, 2017, Schnatter claimed that controversy surrounding the National Anthem had hurt sales, which were down from the previous year.[1] "The NFL has hurt us," he said. "We are disappointed the NFL and its leadership did not resolve this." The pizza company is the official one of the NFL and has a deal with the league and 23 teams. However, they claim to have taken some NFL-related advertising off the air.

"We expect it to persist unless a solution is put in place," said Papa John's President and Chief Operating Officer Steve Ritchie.

The following day, Pizza Hut, who has no affiliation with he NFL, reported a 1% sales growth in the past year.[2] Yum Brands CEO, the owner of Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC, commented, "We're not seeing any impact from any of that.[3]

Online, people interpreted Creed's comment as "throwing shade" or insulting Papa John's (examples below). That day, Twitter[4] published a Moments page regarding the comments.

Throwing Shade comment of Pizza Hut on papa Johns after pizza hut said the TakeAKnee didn't hurt sales, there was anticipation on how it effected Little Caesar's and Domino's pizza Pizza Hut is welcomed to the resistance on the #takeaknee issue

Later that day, the frozen pizza company DiGorno Pizza also posted a series of tweets that were seemingly aimed at Papa John's. The first tweet[5] (shown below, left) read, "Us: 🍕📈 / Them: 🍕📉" and received more than 15,000 retweets and 53,000 likes in 24 hours. DiGorno replied to this tweet with a parody of Papa John's slogan that read, "Better Pizza. Better Sales." The tweet (shown below, center) received more than 8,000 retweets and 25,000 likes in 24 hours. Finally, DiGorno tweeted,[6] "Update: 📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉📉" The final tweet (shown below, right) received more than 2,600 retweets and 11,000 likes in 24 hours.

That day, Twitter[8] published another Moments page about DiGorno Pizza's tweets, receiving more than 1,400 likes in 24 hours.

DiGorno Pizza tweets out that they are an upward graph why the others are a downward graph DiGorno Pizza tweets out better pizza, better sales DiGorno Pizza tweets out a repeat over and over of a downward graph

On February 28th, 2018, Papa John's CEO Steve Richie said in the company's earnings conference call that they are no longer the official pizza of the NFL. Richie said that the company and the NFL have mutually decided to separate.[20]

In a joint statement, the entities said, "The NFL and Papa John's have made a mutual decision to shift from their official league sponsorship to a focus on partnerships with 22 local NFL teams, presence in broadcast and digital media, and key personalities in the sport."

That day, the NFL announced that Pizza Hut would be named the official pizza of the NFL.[21]

That day, Twitter[22] user @KingJosiah54 posted a gif of a boy looking nervous with the caption "Peyton Manning when Papa John see him eating Pizza Hut." The post (shown below) received more than 300 retweets and 1,000 likes in six hours.

John Schnatter's Resignation

On July 11th, 2018, John Schnatter resigned as Chairman of Papa John's after admitting to saying the N-word on a conference call.[23] In a statement, Schnatter stated, “News reports attributing the use of inappropriate and hurtful language to me during a media training session regarding race are true… Regardless of the context, I apologize. Simply stated, racism has no place in our society.” Schattner also resigned from the Louisville Board of Trustees.[24] Stocks for Papa John's fell 5.9% after the news broke.

Online, Twitter users made jokes about Schattner's resignation by giving him various characterizations. Twitter user @ribosomechomsky made a joke which made a Papa John/Pope comparison, gaining over 3,700 retweets and 16,000 likes (shown below, left). Twitter user @boring_as_heck made a joke that gained over 130 retweets and 1,900 likes (shown below, right).

10,000 rats gunning for one last thrill @RibosomeChomsky Follow Papas John usually hold the position until death, this will be the first time in over 600 years that a conclave is held to elect a new Papa John while the old one is still alive BNO News@BNONews BREAKING: Papa John's founder and chairman John Schnatter resigns after using n- word on conference call 12:52 AM-12 Jul 2018 Stefan Heck @boring as_heck Following Very dangerous situation developing at Papa John's headquarters tonight as Papa John is currently barricaded in his office and threatening to turn his pizza on himself. 1:50 AM-12 Jul 2018

Schnatter Sues Papa John's

On July 26th, 2018, Schnatter filed a lawsuit against Papa John's in which he stated that he had been "falsely accused" of using a racial slur, despite two weeks earlier saying "“News reports attributing the use of inappropriate and hurtful language to me during a media training session regarding race are true…"[25] It came out that Schnatter, while talking about the blowback against him, had said "Colonel Sanders called blacks n-----s" yet never faced public outrage. Schnatter also accused the board of Papa John's of acting too quickly in pressuring him to resign, perhaps as part of a "coup."

On Twitter, users joked about the strangeness of the situation with jokes about how "Papa John" is suing Papa John's. User @Sophia_HX posted a Spider-man Pointing at Spider-man joke (shown below, left), and user @MoistCr1TIKal joked that the situation was reminiscent of an anime, gaining over 1,600 retweets (shown below, right).

Sophia Haralson @Sophia_Hx Follow Papa John is suing Papa Johns for something Papa John himself did while at Papa Johns Published Author @MoistCr1TiKaL Jul 26 My god, the war has only just begun. The anime is approaching one thell of a climax. You can't stop-a the Papa. Papa John sues Papa John's by Jackie Wattles and Jordan Valinsky@CNNMoney D July 26, 2018: 5:04 PM ET Papa John's is losing the pizza wars Papa John's is losing the pizza wars. Big time John Schnatter, the ousted founder of pizza chain Papa John's, is suing his former company


Papa John's is the third largest fast food pizza delivery and take out restaurant chain in the world. As of January 2016, the company has been valued at $2.2 billion.[17] By January 2017, Papa John's reached a record market cap of 3.2 billion[18] before settling back down to the early 2016 price range.[19]


On November 6th, 2008, Papa John's launched the official Facebook [10] page. The social media account currently has more than 5.5 million likes and 5.3 million followers as of November 2017.

The following month, on December 29th, 2008, Papa John's launched the official @PapaJohns Twitter[11] account. As of November 2017, the account has more than 545,000 followers.

On February 21st, 2012, Redditor [12] SchmittBag started the /r/Papajohns subreddit. Within five and a half years, the subreddit has garnered more than 595 subscribers. On October 24th, 2017, Redditor[13] fluffykins posted a picture of a man with a Papa John's tattoo under the thread "First Tattoo."

Man with his first tattoo posted on Reddit which was a Papa John's logo on his chest

Popularity in White Supremacist and Alt-Right Communities

Following Papa John's decision to scale back advertising on the NFL as a result of the #TakeAKnee controversy, the neo-Nazi and white supremacist website The Daily Stormer[14] posted a picture of a pizza with a swaztika made of pepperoni on November 2nd, 2017. The picture was captioned "Papa John: Official pizza of the alt-right?"

Pizza with swastika made with pepperoni slices and a question if Papa John is the official pizza of the alt-right

Papa John's released a statement to the Huffington Post.[15] The company said in a statement:

"We condemn racism in all forms and any and all hate groups that support it. We do not want these individuals or groups to buy our pizza."

That weekend, alt-right Twitter[16] personality Jack Posobiec continued the association between Papa John's and the alt-right by serving the pizza at his wedding rehearsal dinner. He tweeted a picture of Papa John's pizza with the caption "Rehearsal dinner with Papa Johns!" The tweet (shown below) received more than420 retweets and 2,600 likes.

Jack Posobiec tweeting that he is having Papa Johns at his wedding rehearsal dinner

Online, people mocked Posobiec for having fast-food pizza at his wedding rehearsal dinner as a means of "owning libs."

imagined conversation between Jack Posobiec and himself about using the Papa John's pizza as way of owning the libs comment online about how Jack Posobiec is going to stuff his face with pizza that tastes like shoes and then claim he owns liberals

Urban Meyer Protest Troll

On August 1st, 2018 Ohio State University football coach Urban Meyer was placed on leave by the school for knowingly covering up spousal abuse allegations against assistant head coach Zach Smith, who was fired the week prior. [26] On August 6th, Ohio State fans protested outside of the school's stadium the decision to place Meyer on leave. That day, Mississippi lawyer Karen Howell trolled the protester by sending them a box of Papa John's pizza, playing on the chain's recent favor with alt-right and hate groups, as well as an earlier viral image of Meyer eating Papa John's after losing a football game. The moment was covered by BustedCoverage.[27]

Karen Howell @karenehowell Follow v lt me! Marcus Hartman @marcushartman Someone sent pizza to the rally for Urban Meyer 7:49 PM-6 Aug 2018

H3H3's Papa Bless

“Papa Bless” is a catchphrase associated with Ethan Klein of H3H3Productions and reference to American pizza company, “Papa John’s”. It is often jokingly used to express gratitude to CEO John Schnatter and showing appreciation of kindness.

H3H3Productions of Papa Bless

Search Interest

External References

[1] ESPN – Papa John's says anthem protests are hurting deal with NFL

[2] Pizza Hut: NFL protests aren't affecting our sales

[3] Yahoo – Yum profit buoyed by strength at KFC, shares jump

[4] Twitter – Pizza Hut takes a slice at Papa John's NFL protests remark

[5] Twitter – @DiGiornoPizza's Tweet

[6] Twitter – @DiGiornoPizza's Tweet

[7] Twitter – @DiGornoPizza's Tweet

[8] Twitter – DiGiorno takes a shot at Papa John's after NFL blame game

[9] Wikipedia – Papa John's

[10] Facebook – Papa John's Pizza

[11] Twitter – @PapaJohns

[12] Reddit – /r/PapaJohns

[13] Reddit – First Tattoo

[14] The Daily Stormer – Papa John’s Pizzas Disgusted with Anti-White NFL, Pulls Ads

[15] The Huffington Post – Why The Alt-Right Now Loves Papa John’s

[16] Twitter – @JackPosobiec's Tweet

[17] Business Insider – Papa John's CEO shares the fascinating story of how his $2.2 billion business got its name: 'I owe someone $16,000 worth of free pizza'

[18] Forbes – NEW BILLIONAIRE How Papa John's CEO John Schnatter Turned Pizza Into Ten-Figure Fortune

[19] NASDAQ – Papa John's International, Inc. (PZZA) Ex-Dividend Date Scheduled for November 06, 2017

[20] ESPN – Papa John's, NFL make 'mutual decision' to end sponsorship deal

[21] ESPN – Pizza Hut signs sponsorship deal with NFL

[22] Twitter – @KingJosiah54's Tweet

[23] Bloomberg – Papa John's Chairman Schnatter Quits After Racial Remarks

[24] Twitter – @darrenrovell

[25] Forbes – John Schnatter Sues Papa John's, Backtracks Admission To Use Of Racial Slur

[26] AP News – Ohio State’s Meyer put on leave, investigation opened

[27] Busted Coverage – Papa John’s Pizza Sent To Ohio State Fans Protesting Urban Meyer Case Outside Ohio Stadium

Recent Videos 3 total

Recent Images 17 total

Top Comments


I always see arguments crop up whenever chain pizzas are brought up. "Oh Papa Johns is the worst" "No Domino's is the worst" "Little Caesar's tastes like cardboard" "Fuck you I love Little Caesar's"
For God's sake people it varies from store to store. My local Papa John's and Domino's make excellent pizza, meanwhile places like Little Caesar's and Pizza Hutt, which I've seen people praise online, taste like a half-assed soggy mess of stale dough and old cheese. They all get basically the same ingredients from their respective chains, it all just depends on the people making the pizza, and whether they take pride in their work or just do the bare minimum to avoid getting fired.
Local places are almost universally better though. I just wish any of my local pizzerias delivered.


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