There are few things Americans disagree on more than politics and pizza toppings, so it’s not surprising partisan pizza maker “Papa John” Schnatter is in the middle of a political firestorm. A longtime critic of Obamacare, the Papa John’s CEO recently announced employee hours would probably be reduced to avoid the additional $5-8 million cost of providing all full-time employees with government-mandated health insurance.
The announcement lit a fuse on the internet, sparking debate not seen since the recent flareup over Chick-fil-A’s gay marriage controversy. Amidst the online bickering of armchair economists, Schnatter’s opulent 40,000-square-foot castle in Kentucky was dragged into the fight. Critics pointed to the Papa John’s CEO’s immense wealth ($600 million net worth) and enormous home as reason enough he could afford the increased health care costs. After all, critics argued, if he doesn’t have the coin for his workers’ health care how can he afford a promotion to give away 2 million pizzas or own a home with these deluxe amenities:
- Multi-level 22 car underground garage
- Multiple swimming pools
- Private golf course
- Gigantic motorized turntable-driveway to park stretch limousines
- 6,000-square-foot guest house
- Office for valet parking
But while this massive mansion received plenty of criticism, many have came to the defense of the pizza magnate. Numerous supporters spoke out on social media, and recently it was announced that Friday, November 16 will be National Papa John’s Appreciation Day.
Schnatter’s sprawling home was recently the site of a Mitt Romney fundraiser, in which the former presidential candidate praised the Republican donor, saying “Who would’ve imagined pizza could build this?” In addition to similar political beliefs, both men share an enthusiasm for large homes and car elevators.
The controversy hasn’t deterred Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning from buying 21 Papa John’s franchises in Colorado. Many, including sports reporter Rick Reilly, credited Manning for the timing of his purchase since marijuana becomes legal in Colorado in one week.
With Papa John’s stock suddenly down and a boycott on the way, it seems like the fast food franchise had hit bottom, but today things got worse. In the U.S. District Court in Seattle, attorneys representing people who received spam emails filed a class action lawsuit against Papa John’s Pizza that they say could cost the pizza chain $250 million. No matter what happens to Papa John’s though, John Schnatter has a pretty sweet home to hang out in until these controversies blow over.