Anti-Hunters Target Jimmy John’s CEO for Hunting Photos

The ire over John Liautaud’s 2010 safari has waxed and waned over the years, but is resurging as the company prepares to go public.

Jimmy John's CEO and founder, Jimmy John Liautaud, with an elephant he killed in 2010. (Photo via


Note: Originally published February 29, 2016.


The founder and CEO of Jimmy John’s, a restaurant chain famous for the quick delivery of its products, is under fire for a 2010 African safari he participated in.

Jimmy John Liautaud took elephants, a rhino, and a leopard, along with plains game species — posing afterward for photos with a smile on his face and a thumbs up. Liautaud’s trophy hunting angered many and led to numerous calls for boycotts of his company. That anger has waxed and waned over the years as the photos have sporadically resurfaced, but the hunter began receiving consistent flak in the fall of 2015 after “Cecil” the lion’s death earlier that year.

Twitter user Jonah Lupton began stirring the pot again in August 2015, calling Liautaud a “scumbag” and literally begging the public to boycott Jimmy John’s as retaliation. No one has alleged that the hunts were illegal or handled in an unsportsmanlike manner, but the public continues to decry Liautaud’s choice to hunt species that are considered endangered.


Jonah Lupton calls for a boycott of Jimmy John’s on Twitter.


In a Chicago Tribune article from Nov. 3, 2015, Liautaud said the hunts have certainly had an effect on his reputation, if not his business. He reportedly cried during the interview as he discussed the backlash.

“I choose to hunt and I choose to fish,” he said. “Everything I’ve done has been totally legal. And the meat has been eaten, if not by me than by someone I’m with.”

While still an avid hunter, Liautaud said he no longer hunts African big game.

The infamy from his 2010 safari is of particular importance in 2016. Business Insider said Jimmy John’s may be hurt by the reaction to Liautaud’s safari as it prepares to go public soon — an assessment Wall Street Journal seconded.

Atlantic Street Capital is reportedly considering Jimmy John’s as a potential investment, but declined a WSJ request for comment on whether the boycott would effect its decision. Atlantic has already bought a Jimmy John’s franchise in the Greater Chicago area.

The chain was founded in Chicago and is currently made up of 2,300 locations, with Liautaud’s hopes to double that in five years.


Liautaud founded Jimmy John’s in 1983 at the age of 19, building the sandwich empire around a reputation for speedy delivery. He told the Chicago Tribune, “Delivery was never a strategy. Delivery was really survival.” Its ad slogan, “Freaky Fast,” has been used in radio, television, and print advertisements to great effect.



0 thoughts on “Anti-Hunters Target Jimmy John’s CEO for Hunting Photos

  1. Don’t think there’s a Jimmy John’s in my community but if every hunter, especially those who like to hunt in Africa, bought a couple of shares if he goes public, the antis would get the message. Far more of us are willing to fund wildlife conservation, which includes sport and meat hunting, than are the antis who just want something to protest. Looking forward to my next trip to Africa and only regret that personal finances don’t allow an elephant hunt.

  2. While I have always “liked” Jimmy Johns sandwiches I now “love” them and will eat more and more of them to show my support. Discretion prevents me from typing what I think of Jonah Lupton bu Mr. Kwieceinski from Penn State is correct, he is a jerk.
    If you click on the link to my face he wont like my Facebook cover page either.

  3. It’s unfortunate that people such as Mr. Lupton blindly follow their emotions without realizing that many of these game species would probably already be extinct if it weren’t for the effective game management practices supported by legal and responsible hunting. Don’t second guess yourself or your values Mr. Liautaud. I will dine at Jimmy Johns more often!

  4. I had been eating at a local Jimmy John’s frequently but I stopped recently when I learned of the founder’s taste for irresponsible hunting. His sandwiches do not appeal to me anymore.