Better Ingredients, Better Hangover: Checking In With Louisville Superfan Papa John Schnatter

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Before he started framing all of his television advertising as some sort of bizarre campaign ad and casting himself as the earnest candidate blurting arrhythmic promises that he would never lie to you about what quality of bell pepper he uses (the finest), Papa John Schnatter had a different approach. It was still strangely and resolutely centered around him, and based as the present ads are around slow-motion footage of his pizzas—the thick latex cheesoid surfaces, the little sad sausage boulders and meat clots and denatured vegetable solids—intercut with footage of Schnatter doing various things.

But while his new ads feature Schnatter's leatherette visage squinching out assurances about various ingredients in that weird, slam poetry cadence of his, the old ones featured Schnatter doing actual activities. There were little kamikaze pizza-raids in many of them: family gatherings bum-rushed by a polo-shirted Schnatter, who charges in like a very affluent and only slightly more human-esque version of the Kool-Aid Man and just fucking starts handing out Meat Weepers Pizzas and pistoning out awkward high-fives. He shows up at a firehouse and everyone goes nuts, all these grown firemen acting excited because a small orange centimillionaire showed up and shoved salt-flabbed carbohydrate tiles at them. He throws a tight spiral to a bunch of kids playing football on a cul de sac. You have never seen so many white people before in your life. (There's a bit about those ads in this post, which I don't really remember writing at all.)

Often the ads end with Schnatter accomplishing some sports feat or other, and people cheering for him, which is almost poignant in its reflection of the disordered narcissism of the self-made, self-righteous millionaire—everyone gets to their feet and applauds to beat the band because the guy who owns a house with its own golf course and a dedicated bunker for his car collection just threw a 30-yard pass to a nine-year-old. In one ad, Schnatter tosses up a baseball-style half-court heave at Louisville's YUM! Brands Arena, banks it in, and fully loses his shit. It's real, as it turns out:

His celebration is one of his very few legitimately human on-camera moments; the cheers he gets there, and only there, make sense. Presumably the fans have not yet learned that they will be receiving free Papa John's pizza because of this shot.

So we can gather from all this that Schnatter is a sports fan, and that he thinks his sports skills make him and his just frankly monstrous pizza more appealing. And also that Schnatter, whose self-satirizing ultra-manse is in an affluent suburb of Louisville, Kentucky, is himself a Louisville fan. This, too, seems sort of right: Schnatter just doesn't seem quite the right fit for the University of Kentucky for a variety of reasons, and while the Indiana native has a certain Tom Crean-ly affect to him Schnatter doesn't quite seem like a Hoosiers fan, either. Louisville is what's left, and so Louisville it is. And so we might assume that Papa John was pleased when Louisville, a mostly likable and very good team that played brilliantly in its win over Michigan on Monday, won the National Championship. Actually, there's no real reason to assume it, because tipster Ted Berg pointed to this tweet, from Bleacher Report via the Pulitzer Prize-winning BroBible, that serves as proof that Schnatter was very pleased indeed.

Schantter is the one in the middle, with the ID lanyard and the .408 BAC. I may not agree with Schnatter on the morality of providing health insurance to employees, or on whether an old, sad couch cushion covered in three-quarters of an inch of white-flavored cheese and meat pebbles qualifies as pizza. I am still saddened and startled every time I see him on TV, talking about premium pepperoni as if preparing to propose marriage to it, or the viewer, or both. But if he's willing or able to keep up this fantastic @DadBoner routine, I'm prepared to reconsider everything.

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