Does Papa John’s Pizza Hate the State of Ohio? Eick May 3, 2008 Cooking, Marketing, Pizza, Sports 127 Comments For those of you unfamiliar with this story, you can read all of my follow up coverage, in chronological order HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE. Update: I have received word that Papa John’s has formally apologized for the incident. Click over to So Good’s front page to read about the apology and other updates on the story from the past 24 hours. My original post about the “Crybaby” T-shirts appears below: Earlier tonight I attended the Washington Wizards and Cleveland Cavaliers playoff game 6 at the Verizon Center in DC. Over the course of my night, one thing really surprised me. A few fans around the arena had shirts mocking Lebron James. The shirts had the number 23 on them, with the word “Crybaby” across the back. This kind of taunting is common at NBA arenas. But what was most shocking was that the shirts featured the Papa John’s logo, and appeared to be sponsored by, and paid for by, Papa John’s Pizza. Lebron James is one of, if not THE most popular player in the NBA. Not only that, he is beloved in the state of Ohio. I was perplexed why Papa John’s Pizza would put their name on a t-shirt that so openly taunted such a well-liked athlete. The decision to sponsor these shirts seems incredibly ill advised. The only rational would be if Papa John’s has a lot of franchises in Washington, DC, but none in the state of Ohio. However, as a national chain, I was skeptical that they didn’t have a presence in the state. Sure enough, a quick check on the Papa John’s website, using their restaurant locater, shows that there are TEN different Papa John’s pizza outlets just within 12 miles of the Cleveland Cavaliers arena. So the question now is, why did Papa John’s decide to sponsor a promotion that will surely piss off a ton of Cavaliers fans and Ohio residents? Will Papa John’s start to lose business because angry residents don’t appreciate them openly mocking the most popular athlete in the state of Ohio? Will this end up hurting Papa John’s profits, or damage their company name? Will it lead to a boycott of Papa John’s by Cleveland Cavaliers fans? The following two tabs change content below.BioLatest Posts Eick Latest posts by Eick (see all) Fast Food Bracket Round 1: Jack in the Box vs. Five Guys, KFC vs. Checkers - March 3, 2016 BK’s “Polygameat” Campaign Shockingly Similar to Wendy’s “Meatatarian” Campaign - September 16, 2014 Surge Wins Discontinued Foods Bracket! - April 12, 2013 127 Responses « Older Comments Newer Comments » Nick May 4th, 2008 and if you guys check the news, now they are selling pizza for 23 cents on thursday to apologize. GO CAVS!! Reply sexygirlincleveland May 5th, 2008 Ok Ok everyone calm down lets use common sense!!!! that was in WASHINGTON !!!! why are you guys tripping about what papa john’s is doing in WASHINGTON. everyone with a freaking brain can figure out that it was a marketing ploy for the WASHINGTON area papa john’s. THERE ARE SO MANY MORE IMPORTANT THINGS IN THE WORLD THAT WE NEED TO BE PROTESTING!!!! chill out it is just a game!!! and guess what the CAVS won the game!!! not the wizards. So this should not be hurting the cleveland papa john’s in no way. if you guys can read it was for a FRANCHISEE IN WASHINGTON NOT CLEVELAND SO WHAT IS THE BIG FUSS ABOUT!!!! you guys are wasting your time. by boycotting you can cause alot of good people to lose what might be there only means of making a living. yes it was in poor taste but so what it is just a freaking game!!!! Reply Ohio Papa John's Team Member May 5th, 2008 I am a manager at a Papa John’s in Wadsworth, Ohio. When I found out about this I was very upset that someone would do this! Papa John’s did not authorize this in anyway. The person who did this is obviously fired by now. We support of the Cleveland teams here and would never have let this happen if we had know about this ahead of time! LeBron James have family in this area and he has a house less then 20 minutes from here. He has held his youth basketball tournaments in our city and we were the one’s who provided the pizza for the event. It would just have been stupid for us to go along with something like this! I want everyone to know that on Thursday May 8, Papa John’s will be have a 23 cent pizza day and all the money from this will be going to a Cleveland Cavaliers charity. Please do not punish us for something that we did not even know about until after it happened. Please do not boycott us for others bad judgment. Reply NBA Fan May 5th, 2008 Are we talking about the same “CRYBABY” that got a technical in game 6? Reply John "Bradshaw" Layfield May 5th, 2008 I think there is much need to call someone a name, like scumbag, Papa Johnâ€™s has no sense in customer service or appreciation. Itâ€™s the customers that keep you in business and make your paychecks, and itâ€™s the customers who, if they stop buying, will put you out of business. Reply Vicky May 5th, 2008 yes, there are some people here in cleveland who think “crybaby” you know him as 23 is a “CRYBABY” and thank god someone said you call him a roll model, hello two children and still not married? And finally someone brings up the real truth about who the great BB players are. And another thing KING get real. He is OVER RATED when are those shirts coming out I’ll take one and wear it proudly. One idot got mad and yeah, now all these small buisness owners are going to suffer. Stupid people do stupid things and who cares what other fans wear, look at 23 wearing a NY hat, your right take and leave James. Real cleveland fans love their teams no matter how the play and with or without James, real Cleveland fans rock…….. any other team want to make him an offer?? Good bye James you are an over rated crybaby, remember you only scored 2 points higher then the one guy on the wizzard team. and still I know you all you people saying you will boycott will be there, getting your 23 cent pizza, I still want mine suasage…….. Reply Mike May 5th, 2008 Wizzard fan’s wished they had a crybaby player that was that good. Better to be overrated than a big mouth thug. Some one should lose his job over this shirt deal or his francise Reply jroy May 5th, 2008 For the first time I will be grateful for the “crybaby” because on Thursday I’ll be able to feed my family with Papa Johns Pizza for $0.23 a pizza. In this economy that will be a real treat. The millions that the young man makes doesn’t justify his moral standing with two illegitamate children. He is certainly not the roll model I want for my boys. And by the way, I think most professional sports players are million dollar crybabies. These are the idols our country upholds as heros? What a sad state of the Union. Reply Derek Arnold May 5th, 2008 I have one word about all of this: scoreboard. Papa John’s bet on the wrooong horse! Reply spapania May 5th, 2008 I would have to say Vicky is retarded. It sounds like this person has no idea that Lebron is still dating the same girl since highschool. Also both children are with her. Since when do you have to be married to be a role model…..idiot. Also it sounds like you are a proud Wizards fan……..better luck in the following years to come…..Washington is a stepping stone to raise Cleveland higher……3 years now. Go Home Bitch Reply zach May 5th, 2008 LeBron is the biggest crybaby in the league! He gets a ton of calls and then crys for more calls. Who cares! I’m a Cavaliers fan – I know that LeBron gets a ton of calls and that he is a crybaby….so what. Reply No Papa JOhns Vicky is a Troll! May 5th, 2008 .23 cents? Get real, you cant entice us to buy your crap! I hope LeBron and the Cavs ink a deal with Pizza Hut or Dominos and crush Papa Johns, what were they thinking?! Reply Cleveland Crybabies May 5th, 2008 Uh, Cleveland can not take the joke. Rename the team: “Cleveland Crybabies” Who the hell is this James guy anyway? Never heard of him. And why do sports losers think anyone cares about their games? We got a world where four people a minute starve to death every minute. We have our soldiers killing foreigners every day in our name to protect the oil companies and Halliburton stockholders. That’s right, America is murdering men women and children every day in your name and you spend your time on this crap? Sigh: get a life, Cleveland! Reply spapania May 5th, 2008 obviously you have just a little of a life to reply to our threads……..what do you have to say that…….and obviously you know who he is because you wouldn’t be on this site. I love retards from D.C. they are so cute… Reply NeRlAn May 5th, 2008 No matter how much papa john’s tries there is still going to be people that won’t eat at papa john’s because of this. It is sad that pj businesses in Ohio may have trouble but thats what you get when the local chains can’t be check by the higher ups in the company. For the people that say lebron is a crybaby well everyone is a crybaby in almost every sport. Players always argue with the refs. People here are saying that he is a bad role model because he has two children with his high school sweat heart but there not married. If they were married would it make you happier. What if they don’t want to get married because of financial reasons or lebron doesn’t want his girlfriend to up and leave him with 50 mil (pre nups are so romantic). Its not your business so why do you make it your problem does you child watch lebron take care of his kids or play basketball. Would you rather have there favorite basketball player run in the stands and punch a fan(artest) or thier favorite football player go to a stripclub at 3 in the morning and be involved woth a shooting. You must take the good with the bad and im sure your not perfect amd the way you write your comments your kids are in trouble. And if you people cry about people being crybabies that kind of makes you a crybaby. And of course that makes me a crybaby. From a 15 year old boy from Maryland. Oga boga boga bitch Reply 216eric May 5th, 2008 vicky, you are a fucking moron. lebron is overrated? “he only scored 2 pts higher than the one wizzard guy ” ?? he had a goddamn triple double! do you even know what that is? come on lady, he’s only the greatest player to ever put on a cavalier jersey, or any jersey for that matter. Reply noljaooadifviafobvsef May 5th, 2008 The wizards suck if i told you what i really thought about them the naacp would get on my ass there isn’t one white person on that team 🙂 oh yeah papa johns is gay Reply b May 5th, 2008 hello Reply Blueberry Ruffin May 5th, 2008 …if only anyone in Cleveland could come up with 23 cents Reply Marcus Sims May 5th, 2008 Yo, here’s the aftermath from all that. http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5iBoJUwFsrmc1sTTHVDOHxczzTZMAD90F67QG2 Reply StuMan May 5th, 2008 If you can’t take a joke, get a life! Reply StuMan May 5th, 2008 You guys make me want to PUKE! Where were all of you when Kobe raped a girl in Denver. When Artest and Jackson went into the crowd during a game. They were wearing NBA jerseys at the time. Did you boycott the NBA? I guess not since you have the time to express your undying love to LeBron. Blueberry Ruffin was right when he asked if anyone in Clevelnad could come up with 23 cents. Maybe if a bunch of you got together, your IQ points could add up to 23. Reply freebird May 5th, 2008 not a big lebron fan but have seen him with his son after many cavs games,sounds like a real awful parent dont it vicky? Reply QuickDriver4 May 5th, 2008 I drive for papa johns in ne ohio. papa johns did NOT support those shirts! it was a franchise owner in DC that came up with the idea. We had NOTHING to do with it in cleveland. But for those of you that live in the area there are 44 locations with what we are calling “apology pizzas” they are 23 cents. Its a large one topping and its pick up only. Hope that makes you feel a little better! Reply Ken May 5th, 2008 Here’s the deal, Lebron James is just representing the entire city of crybaby, sorry typo, Cleveland. Seems like if enough people in that city get pissed off over a t-shirt and cry about Papa John’s will give you 23 cent pizzas yay! Here’s an idea: Get over it. It was a fun shirt for a game that was supposed to be for fun. People take shit way to serious. Man I thought the economy was bad and people had no jobs, guess not all anyone can do is whine over papa john’s t-shirts ah well. Reply sexygirlincleveland May 6th, 2008 I would like to thank stuman for that comment at least someone has some sense on here!!!! there are some many other things we can boycott. dont boycott over a stupid shirt. the employees work there asses off!! and you guys want them to lose there jobs over this!!! everyone needs to grow up and grow some balls. IT WAS JUST A JOKE!!! every one cries in sports. if you dont do think about anything think about the people whose lives can be destoyed because you guys want to boycott for some bs. i cant believe this story has lasted this long. you guys are getting 23 cent pizzas!!! you should be happy!!! now can we please get back to watching my CAVS go to the championship and whooping everyone’s ass!!!!! Reply greg May 6th, 2008 Hilarious! So, Cleveland doesn’t have it bad enough? They get so weepy about a T-Shirt jokingly dogging a local hero who happens to whine like a lil-baby about everything on court… that they decide the best course of action is to take it out on themselves. Good stuff Cleveland! Reply MC May 6th, 2008 I live in Boston and am originally from Clevleand. I will never eat another peice of Papa John’s Pizza again. Nor will I eat another soggy chicken strip or sand dry papa cheese stick. I will be letting my friends in Cleveland and Boston know whats up. No more Papa Schwantz!! Reply Chris M May 6th, 2008 I’m not even from Ohio, but I respect LeBron and all he has done for the NBA. LeBron fans span all across the country and every Papa John’s store will have a hand full of his fans. That was possibly the dumbest marketing scheme I have ever seen. Sorry Papa John’s in Fayetteville, AR. You just lost a customer. Reply Chris M May 6th, 2008 ps. stuman is a douche Reply DD May 7th, 2008 I loved the shirt…it’s true!!! He is a crybaby. And whoever wrote about Lebron being a role model…get real. If I had kids, I would not want them looking up to someone who thinks that money and fame are more important than an education. P.S. If anyone knows where to find one of those shirts please let me know…I would love to get my hands on one. Reply Lisa May 7th, 2008 OMG! Lebron could buy the whole state of Ohio Pizza’s and still have pocket change! Why do we have to cry so much about petty crap! I think everyone lives for drama and looks like we’ve created drama! It’s called DWI (Deal w/ it)!! We all know that ANY and ALL Cleveland Teams have a serious curse…we can’t win ANY Championship. We’re the mistake by the Lake and that’s life. Get your .23 pizza and be happy! Reply The Christ of Ohio May 7th, 2008 I am from Ohio, I have relatives who know LeBron. I agree and I say it now – loudly and proudly – LeBron Is A Bitch. Reply Just another delivery driver... May 7th, 2008 I am a delivery driver at a papa John’s near Cleveland/Akron. Seriously, the media in our local area market smelled blood when word about this got out and they fueled the flames even higher by PROMOTING THIS AS IF WE WANTED THE PROMOTIONAL COVERAGE. Expect sellouts. Expect LONG waits outside in a line that could very well wrap around the store while it is raining. The parking lot is very busy where our store is located in a plaza near lots of hotels. Rumor has it that a bunch of 8th graders from all different local area schools are going to be there. I have even heard rumors of people camping out in tents waiting for the BIG EVENT. People are going to get what they pay for… pizza for $0.23 and we are most likely, along with other stores, going to be sold completely out of product and not be able to sell any during our normal weekend hours. People are IDIOTS. Their lives are so LAME that DRAMA creates excitement and the irresponsible media that SENSATIONALIZES that drama further only make matters even worse. I expect to see the ABSOLUTE WORST SIDE of people brought out tomorrow as I prepare to work from 10 AM until 7 PM as a DRIVER (snicker). There will be very few, if any, delieveries during the afternoon due to the media circus and zoo-like atmosphere where the credons can keep on feedin’. This will not be our regular customers, but instead will be a bunch of bottom feeding parasites that are in it only for a free ride with the “Ah’m gonna get what’s mine” attitude. I expect police intervention and possibly injuries as the crowd gets angry and turns into a mob that could start a riot… Why? Because they want to or would like to. It’s there chance to overturn the cars and set fire to their own town in protest of the ever increasing cost of living as an American. People are upset about GAS prices costing damn near $4, yet I have to drive to earn a living and fill my tank up most of the time with part of the $$$ I earn from tips. People are getting cheap and not tipping, yet expect superior service (not there in a 1/2 an hour its free, right?). Working in the pizza shop industry for over 8 years as both a driver and as an asst. manager for various pizza chains has really been a valuable eye opener into human nature… People are stupid, greedy, ignorant, inconsiderate, and arrogant as a general whole, who all think they are more important than the losers which they indeed really are in truth. I coin the term “BLACK THURSDAY” for this Papa John’s public relations and marketing meltdown promotional gimmick. I can’t wait until it’s FRIDAY man. Just a perfect example of how a FEW misguided morons gave have such serious ramifications on the whole of an enterprise. PJ’s is going to lose a huge amount of business over this from customers who decide to boycott. I bet you they show up tomorrow and BUY $0.23 cent pizza however. Hypocrytes. It almost makes me ashamed to admit that I grew up in Northeast Ohio. The FANS, THE MEDIA, and everyone else is to blame for the shitstorm that is about to hit our franchise… and we had NOTHING to do with their childish marketing decision. NUFF SAID. OUT. Reply John May 7th, 2008 Papa John’s only proved Cleveland is crap. Round on the ends, hi in the middle. Reply LEW May 8th, 2008 Papa Johns knows what they are doing by having you call in to place an order for the 23 cent pizza. Try calling in….all the lines are busy. Sure a lot of calls…try…telephone off the hook!!!!! Reply DEBRA K. LESJAK May 8th, 2008 I AM A CAVS FAN AND WAS VERY SURPRISED THAT OUR LOCAL PAPA JOHNS PIZZA LOCATED 1315 4TH ST. NW NEW PHILA.,PH#330-364-2900. QUITE A FEW PEOPLE I KNOW HAVE BEEN TRYING TO REACH THE PAPA JOHNS TO GET A 23 CENT PIZZA, THEY ADEVERTISED IN OUR LOCAL TIMES REPORTER PAPER SAYING THAT THEY WERE RUNNING THE SPECIAL JUST LIKE THE CLEVELAND OHIO PAPA JOHNS WERE DOING. THE PROBLEM IS THAT WHEN YOU CALL THE NUMBER OF COURCE IT RINGS BUSY BECAUSE EVERYONE WANTS TO A TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE OFFER , BUT I GOT THROPUGH TWICE, THE PHONE RANG AND RANG AND THEY NEVER DID PICK UP, NEEDLESS TO SAY I WILL NEVER ORDER ANOTHER PIZZA FROM PAPA JOHNS TO ME OUR LOCAL FRANCHISE IS RUNNING A SCAM. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO RESPOND PLEASE CALL ME A 33-=343-3626 Reply FLebronHaters(and the celtics) May 8th, 2008 Alll the Warren and Youngtown loactions are busy phone as well…Pack ur car full of your friends and go to the location and order mass amounts of pizzas…Its a marketing scheme…Extra toppings ….1.50 a piece….Breadsticks/wings/soda etc////And there are 49 other states with PJ’s locations that are stacking money today…..But still take advantage of our terrible economy and feed your family and friends cheap…..DONT TRY AN CALL JUST GO TO THE STORE!!!!! And all of you hatin on LeBron are just haters and jealous of the man….Dont hate…Congratulate!!! Reply Pop May 8th, 2008 So it is okay for Lebron to dis his hometown by wearing a Yankees cap to an Indians game, but fans of the Wizards aren’t allowed to make fun of him? I am so tired of the Lebron-hype. He is not a god, he is an awesome baller but a POOR sport. 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