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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Papa John's founder reunited with cherished Camaro

In 1983, John Schnatter had a gold and black 1971 Chevrolet Camaro Z28. It was one of his most beloved possessions. And then he had to sell it to help pay the bills for his father's tavern. The Camaro was bought for $2,800 and there was some money left over after his dad's business got out of hock.

Schnatter used the leftover dough to start up Papa John's Pizza. Everyone knows how huge a success that turned out to be, how John Schnatter has become a multi-millionaire from that initial investment.

And yet, John Schnatter still needed something to be happy. He wanted to be reunited with his favorite muscle car. So Schnatter went on a nationwide quest to hunt it down.

Last week, with some help from car enthusiast website Jalopnik.com, Schnatter's dream came true. The Camaro was in the ownership of Jeff Robinson of Flatwoods, Kentucky (not far from the headquarters of Papa John's in Louisville). And Robinson is now $250,000 richer after transferring the title of the car over to Schnatter.

Here's John Schnatter with the Camaro in 1983, and Schnatter with it today...

After getting his Camaro back, Schnatter said...

"The Camaro represents what I gave up to start Papa John's. Words cannot capture the emotions I am feeling in getting back that part of my history. I didn't have much back then, but for my business dreams to come true, I had to part with the one true asset I had to my name, and even then, there were no promises of success. I never gave up hope that someday I would get that car back. The foundation of Papa John's was built on my decision to sell the Camaro, and while it may not appear to be a huge sacrifice to some, it represents my roots in this business. And, perhaps it can serve as proof to others that hard decisions today can pay off for you later, if you're willing to believe in what you are doing. I'm extremely grateful for the success of Papa John's, and really wanted this critical piece of our history back."
What an awesome story! And methinks there's a lot of good lesson here about success, having faith in one's self and having hope that no matter how hard the sacrifice, it will be worth it in the end. It certainly did for John Schnatter. So it can be for anybody.