Social media users are calling for a boycott of Jimmy John's after controversial photos of the fast-food sandwich chain's CEO resurfaced online Friday.
Jimmy John Liautaud, who founded the company and currently serves as its chairman, has previously been criticized by animal rights groups for his love of big game hunting. Photos of Liautaud posing with dead "trophy" animals first emerged on the internet in 2011, according to Snopes.
But Friday, responses to a Tweet posted in April — which included a photo of the CEO giving a thumbs up while sitting on top of a dead elephant — began trending on Twitter.
Owner of Jimmy Johns celebrating the killing of a beautiful animal. Remember next time you want a sub. Please retweet! pic.twitter.com/9An7NWqAfR— Yossarian317 (@yossarian317) April 19, 2019
Quickly, the hashtag #BoycottJimmyJohns began trending, with more than 77,000 people tweeting about the topic as of Friday afternoon.
Officially done with eating @jimmyjohns the founder and CEO ruined the food for me. Both are now disgusting🤮! Hope jimmy johns loses customers freaky fast! #boycottjimmyjohnspic.twitter.com/OhivFidEP2— 🦋💍 (@Lillyrosegall) August 23, 2019
Liautaud has been hunting animals such as rhinos, elephants, lynxes and zebras since at least 2002, according to Snopes. There's no evidence that any of these hunts were illegal, however. Big game hunting has often been a source of controversy due to its inclusion of potentially endangered animals, including some species of elephants and rhinos.
It's unclear why the photos of Liautaud resurfaced when they did, but the proposed boycott comes as numerous executives have been criticized for their support of various political causes. For example, many customers called for a boycott of fitness chains Equinox and Soul Cycle after it was revealed that Stephen Ross, who had invested in both brands, was hosting a fundraiser for President Trump.
Just contacted @Equinox to cancel my membership after many years. Money talks, especially with these monsters. If it’s too inconvenient for u to trade one LUXURY GYM for another, then you should be ashamed. (No disrespect to the many wonderful employees at my local Equinox). Bye!— billy eichner (@billyeichner) August 7, 2019
And this isn't the first time corporate boycotts have hit the fast-food world, either. Plenty of restaurants have been the targets of similar efforts — whether it's Chik-fil-A's support of anti-LGBTQ groups or the number of chains that have donated money to President Trump's reelection campaign.
There's been a great deal of debate about whether these sort of corporate boycotts are effective, and those looking to hurt Jimmy John's face an uphill battle: The restaurant chain now has more than 2,800 locations and more than $2 billion in revenue. Still, there's no denying the outrage many are feeling over Liautaud's hobby.
Will never buy a Jimmy Johns. Would only think about him killing a magnificent elephant. I'll never get that out of my mind. I'll think about it every time I drive by a JJ joint. I'll get sick to my stomach when I see the logo now.#boycottjimmyjohns— When Women Lead (@WWomenL) August 23, 2019
#boycottjimmyjohns— Kristi with an 👁 (@xenateach) August 23, 2019
I have zero problems with boycotting his stores. First of all, he is a disgusting person to tweet himself, thumbs up, with an elephant he killed. Secondly, his sandwiches are not good. He's garbagio.
I have boycotted them for years. I refuse their food, even when it's free. #BoycottJimmyJohns— Michele (@my_dys) August 23, 2019