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Papa John’s John Schnatter Named “Louisvillian of the Year”

The American Advertising Federation - Louisville (AAF-Louisville) is pleased to announce John Schnatter, Founder and CEO of Papa John’s Pizza, has been named the recipient of its 2015 Louisvillian of the Year award. AAF-Louisville’s membership and the community at-large are invited to attend a luncheon in Schnatter’s honor on Wednesday, July 15 at The Olmsted.

First bestowed in 1951, AAF-Louisville’s Louisvillian of the Year award is the oldest of its kind in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. This outstanding achievement is given to publicly recognize an individual’s generous personal contributions to the Louisville community in the areas of civic, educational, or business progress in recent years.

Schnatter got his start working in a converted broom closet at the back of his father’s restaurant in 1983. Today, Papa John’s Pizza boasts more than 4,700 restaurants in 50 states and 38 countries and territories. “People Are Priority Always” or PAPA is a core value and guiding motto for Schnatter and his team, who work tirelessly to ensure the dignity of their workers and satisfaction of their customers. Since 2012, Papa John’s has contributed over $1 million to disaster relief efforts and under Schnatter’s leadership, the company has made a commitment to sustainability and animal welfare, including efforts to increase recycling and decrease paper waste.

In 2013, Papa John’s unseated Gatorade as the brand most identified by avid National Football League fans as an NFL sponsor, according to survey results released by Turnkey Intelligence for Sports Business Journal Daily. That same year, Papa John’s was named Business of the Year by Louisville’s Business First in the very large company of the year category.

A panel of past honorees selects the winner of the Louisvillian of the Year. Tori Murden McClure, the first woman and American to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean and current president of Spalding University, was recognized as the 2014 Louisvillian of the Year. Previous honorees include: Rick Pitino, George Fischer, Bernard M. Trager, Alice K. Houston, Mary Bingham, Muhammad Ali, Tom Jurich, Ulysses Bridgeman, Jr. and Mary H. Griffith.

A lifetime resident of Louisville, Schnatter’s commitment to providing the best pizza and the best opportunities for his community made him a clear choice for this year’s Louisvillian of the Year award.

"As a native son of Kentuckiana who's gotten to call this place home for 53 years, it's an extraordinary honor to receive this award,” Schnatter said. “It's truly a blessing to be recognized by my peers in the community that I grew up in."

Schnatter and Papa John’s have given more than $40,000,000 to local charitable and civic causes, including $1.2 million contributed to WHAS’ Crusade for Children from Papa John’s 10 Miler and the Triple Crown of Running and more than $1.2 million contributed to Junior Achievement worldwide through online ordering. Schnatter and Papa John’s contributed more than $21 million to fund construction and expansion of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, the 42,000-seat football stadium on the University of Louisville campus. From 2007 to 2012, $776,000 in scholarships were awarded for low income children in the Louisville community to attend a school of their choice.

Most recently Schnatter partnered with UofL and the Koch Foundation to establish the John H. Schnatter Center for Free Enterprise on the university’s campus to “engage in teaching and research that explores the role of free enterprise and entrepreneurship in advancing society” and is scheduled to open in the fall of 2015.

Schnatter has had notable personal achievements including an honorary doctorate from Ball State University (2015), induction into the Louisville Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame (2000), and the Nova Southeastern University’s H. Wayne Huizenga Business School's Entrepreneur Hall of Fame. Additionally, Schnatter was inducted into the Junior U.S. Business Hall of Fame in 2007, joining other inductees that year such as Earl Graves Sr., Founder, Chairman and Publisher of Black Enterprise magazine; Hugh McColl Jr., Retired Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Bank of America; and Ted Turner, Chairman, Turner Enterprises, Inc.

For more information or to make reservations for the Louisvillian of the Year awards luncheon, visit A networking reception begins at 11:30 a.m., with the lunch and awards program following at noon.


About AAF-Louisville: American Advertising Federation - Louisville, formerly the Advertising Federation of Louisville (AdFed), with more than 700 members, represents Louisville's $1 billion advertising industry and is a Division I member of the American Advertising Federation. In 2015, AAF-Louisville was named Division I Club of the Year in the American Advertising Federation’s National Club Achievement Competition. Originally incorporated on January 30, 1908, today’s AAF-Louisville is the area’s oldest membership organization for marketing, advertising, and other communications professionals. To learn more, visit


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