A Pile of Dough From Papa John’s

By Sadie Bass

Aug 25, 2009 1:36pm

ABC's Stu Schutzman reports from New York:

Today’s specials at Papa John’s Pizza: $10.99 for any large pie; $.99 for any topping. But if you happen to be the lucky owner of a particularly special 1971 Chevy Camaro Z8, you’re about to come into a pile of dough.

“Papa john” is John Schnatter, founder of the world’s 3rd largest pizza chain. He is also the original owner of the Z8.  In 1983, Schnatter sold the car for $2800 to help rescue his father’s bar, Mick’s tavern, from bankruptcy. With a few hundred left over, Schnatter started a small pizza delivery business in the back.  A year later, he turned his back room pizza parlor into the first of 3,000 Papa Johns restaurants.

But all his fame and fortune, says Schnatter, was no substitute for the memory of that automobile and what it meant to him.  “The Camaro,” he says, “represents what I gave up to start Papa John’s.”  So earlier this month, during an interview on a pre-season NFL football game, Schnatter made an offer of a quarter of a million dollars — that’s $250,000 — to whomever currently owns the Camaro. The family who originally bought the car from Schnatter in 1983, saw it and began an attempt to track the car. With the knowledge of who they sold it to and the help of some car enthusiast websites, the 1971 Camaro Z8 was located in Flatwoods, Kentucky — population 7,605).  “What a shock,” said Jeff Robinson on learning he was  about to be rich. And a grateful Schnatter has offered the family who found the car a reward of $25,000.

“Words cannot capture the emotions I am feeling in getting that part of my history back,” says Schnatter. “I never gave up hope that someday I would get that car back.”

Tomorrow’s special at Papa John’s — a free large pie for anyone…who drives up in a Camaro.

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