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We're suckers for a happy ending – especially when it involves cars, kids, and hot pizza. Recall, if you will, this past summer when John Schnatter, founder of Papa John's Pizza, was on a nationwide quest to find his beloved 1971 1/2 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 – a car he sold in the mid-Eighties to fund his first store. John found his car in Kentucky, paid out more than a quarter of a million dollars in finder's fees, and then generously gave free pizzas from its 2,600 nationwide locations to all Camaro owners on August 26th.

Still feeling more than a bit elated with the return of his Z28, and intent on providing hope and inspiration to less fortunate children, Schnatter has now created a nifty little 1:64 scale diecast replica of his car. The metal cars sell for $4.99 apiece and each one comes with a coupon for a free medium cheese pizza ($1 from each car purchased will be donated to the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation). In addition to selling the cars online, Papa John's is donating 5,000 mini Camaros directly to Toys for Tots. All told, Papa John's is contributing more than $155,000 to the Marine program and touching countless lives in the process. Go ahead and order a couple... we did. Full press release after the jump.

[Source: Papa John's]


Pizza chain's contribution to annual holiday campaign also will include free pizza offer on back of mini-car packaging, all available at www.papajohns.com

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (November 16, 2009) – Earlier this year, "Papa" John Schnatter set out on a cross-country Road Trip to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Papa John's Pizza...and to search for the car that started it all: a 1971 Z28 Camaro that Schnatter sold to keep his dad's tavern in business and ultimately open his first Papa John's restaurant. He even offered a $250,000 reward for the car's safe return. To everyone's surprise (especially Schnatter's), the beloved Camaro was found in Flatwoods, Ky. in August.

Beginning today, pizza and car lovers alike may purchase a mini replica of Schnatter's Camaro for just $4.99 at www.papajohns.com. For every mini Camaro sold, $1 will be donated to the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, just in time for the holidays. In addition, every toy's packaging includes a coupon for a free medium cheese pizza – making it the gift that keeps on giving, long after the holiday leftovers are gone!

Papa John's is also donating 5,000 mini Camaros directly to Toys for Tots – a retail value of $25,000, and $50,000 in redeemable free pizzas. In total, Papa John's will contribute more than $155,000 to the 2009 Toys for Tots campaign.

"You could say that Christmas came early this year for John, which is why we're especially pleased to share his joy with kids around the country who love Papa John's pizza," said Jude Thompson, Papa John's president and chief operating officer. "Papa John's is proud to partner and be associated with Toys for Tots, renowned for touching millions of young lives year after year."

"Papa John has a great story that's not only fun, but also provides hope and inspiration to less fortunate children," said Maj. Bill Grein, USMC (Ret), vice president of the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. "Toys for Tots is honored to have the support of Papa John's and their 2,600 restaurants across the country this season as we make the holidays brighter for families everywhere."

For more information and to purchase a mini Camaro, benefiting Toys for Tots, visit www.papajohns.com.

About Marine Toys for Tots

The Marine Toys for Tots Foundation is a not for profit organization authorized by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve to provide fundraising and other necessary support for their annual Toys for Tots Program. Now in its 62nd year, Toys for Tots provides hope and happiness to economically disadvantaged children through the gift of a shiny new toy during the Christmas holiday season. Our gifts offer these children recognition, confidence and a positive memory they will cherish for a lifetime. Many of the gifts we provide, such as books, games and sports equipment, make a significant contribution to the educational, social and recreational interests of these children. In 2008, Marines distributed gifts to 7.6 million children in over 650 communities nationwide. The Marine Toys for Tots Foundation relies on individual donations from the American public and is supported by corporate sponsorships. For more information, visit www.toysfortots.org.

About Papa John's

Headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, Papa John's International, Inc. (NASDAQ: PZZA) is the world's third largest pizza company. For nine of the last 10 years, consumers have rated Papa John's No. 1 in customer satisfaction among all national pizza chains in the highly regarded American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). Papa John's also ranks first among pizza companies in the 2008 Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, was honored by Restaurants & Institutions Magazine (R&I) with the 2008 Silver Award for Consumers' Choice in Chains in the pizza segment, and was named 2007 Pizza Today Chain of the Year. For more information about the company or to order pizza online, visit Papa John's at www.papajohns.com.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      I have a feeling he's an idiot (who pays 1/4 $1M) because he's got nothing to do but blow money. His pizza stinks too... better ingredients makes pizza... yeah okay...
        • 5 Years Ago
        Papa John's is about the best chain pizza. It beats the hell out of Dominos, Pizza Hut and Little Cesar's. So, yeah... it's still chain pizza. The man is wealthy and he can spend his money how he wants to spend it, not to mention he's doing something for a good cause as well. Lamery icu, lamery.
        • 5 Years Ago
        He earned that money by working hard and building up a business. What would you suggest he spend the money on. He got back his car that he loved when he was a kid, got great promotion for his business and is helping out a charity. I think that's pretty decent use of money.

        • 5 Years Ago
        Haters always gonna hate.
        • 5 Years Ago
        icu, who pissed in your cheerios? He obviously does a lot more with his money than just keep it in a Swiss bank somewhere, like use it for charities and his clientele. I don't know the guy and can't say much about him, but it sounds like a heartening story to me, and certainly not one to call the guy an idiot over.
        • 5 Years Ago
        oh yeah he's really blowing that money by giving to a good cause while also marketing out of it. sounds pretty smart to me. he's also the one who built a massive business from the ground up.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Jerk! Have you never done anything good in your life?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Mayoman, you beat me to it.

        The car was a symbol of his success, and he wanted it back. Can't blame him for that.

        It's like that "first $1 bill" you see posted at small businesses.

        If you don't like the pizza, don't eat it. I've had better, but I've also had much worse. It's all about choices.

        At least he didn't buy an island and nine Rolls Royces.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I've just placed my order for two of these cars.

      A class-act, all the way.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I like Papa John's pizza and I like John Schnatter.
      He has always seemed like a nice guy and he seems to have worked hard and built his fortune honestly.
      And he is a car guy which makes him just that more awesome.
      Here is a link to a map of his awesome home and its underground garage.
      The map is rotatable.

      • 5 Years Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Papa john seem like a nice guy and done alot in Louisville, Ky and southern Indiana area. I know that paying what he did seems like alot to the average guy but he is not the average guy. His hard work has paid off and now he can spend insane amounts of money on a $15,000 car at best.
      The toy is just another way of advertising his product and do good work at the same time. Don't hate the guy because he is more successful than you.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This is an awesome idea on behalf of John Schnatter and I'll support it.

      Sure, many will say that his pizza is not the best but who cares, he is doing something good. Plus, you are:

      A) Buying a cool little toy car not pizza


      B) You don't have to use the coupon on the back

      I am definitely going to buy a couple of these.
        • 5 Years Ago
        For geniuses like Braden who never read the linked material, you can donate directly to the Toys for Tots right on the die cast car order page without even getting a car or the pizza that comes with it.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Or, you can donate the whole $4.99 straight to Toys for Tots instead of getting some stupid die-cast car that is going to sit around on a shelf and gather dust.
        • 5 Years Ago
        No crap, Braden, but this is a blog read by car lovers, not charity lovers. Of COURSE we are gonna buy the car!
        Might not be worth anything (not many die casts are anymore), but maybe, just MAYBE, a mint carded Papa Johns Camaro WITH PIZZA COUPON INTACT will be worth something someday.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I have the sneaking suspicion this John guy is a class act.
        • 5 Years Ago
        the world needs more people like him.
      • 5 Years Ago
      owww... flamey hot in here. I should probably clarify that I thought he was stupid for overpaying by about 4x for his car. I understand the "oh my first car" thing, but to pay over 4x more is stupid. The charity part of the story is obviously good, but why not just donate all proceeds?
        • 5 Years Ago
        The Toys for the Tots thing, if I'm correct, is one of those charities that sells donations in $1 increments. That would be why a $20 donation on the order page shows twenty $1 donations. The rest probably goes towards the car and the pizza. It makes it easier for people who aren't accustomed to giving cough up some cash while getting something out of it for themselves.

        Similarly, those Staples Easy Buttons sold for 5 bucks, with a portion going to charity.

        Papa Johns does something in Indy (probably nationally too), where they join with charity groups/schools, etc for a $10 coupon book, which has coupons for a free 1 topping large pizza, and many bogo coupons. I doubt they make much, if anything if you use a few coupons, but it goes to name recognition and charitable causes.
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