John Schnatter, the founder of Papa John’s International, climbed into the ranks of the world’s billionaires in the past year, according to a new list compiled by the business news organization Forbes.
That’s a change from last year, when he was listed among the richest people in American cities with a net worth of $710 million.
Forbes reported recently that Schnatter hit $1 billion, making him a newcomer to the list. He was tied at 1,940 with 11 others from around the globe.
His ascent into the stratosphere comes as Forbes reports a record year for the number of people with 10-figure fortunes. The list increased 13 percent from 1,810 last year to 2,043 this year. It’s the biggest increase in the 31 years that the news organization has been tracking billionaires.
Forbes also at times spotlights people who’ve fallen off, but “gainers since last year’s list outnumbered losers by more than three to one.” The list is a snapshot of wealth taken Feb. 17, according to Forbes wealth editors Kerry Dolan and Luisa Kroll.
“We estimate that about 75 percent of his net worth lies in his shares of Papa John’s. The share price rose a staggering 70 percent between mid-February 2016 and mid-February 2017, landing Schnatter in the billionaire ranks,” Dolan wrote in response to emailed questions from the Courier-Journal.
If the snapshot were taken Tuesday this week, Schnatter would not have made the cut because the company’s share price has declined from $86.01 to $73.99 a share, Dolan said, and that would have put Schnatter’s net worth at $915 million.
“No matter what, he’s built a super-successful business,” she wrote.
Schnatter, 55, is often asked to tell the story of his start as an entrepreneur who took over a failing beer joint in Jeffersonville, Ind., owned by his father and converted a broom closet to a pizza-making operation. The company now sells pizza around the globe, with more than $1.5 billion in revenues a year. Schnatter said during a question-and-answer session at January’s Greater Louisville Inc. annual meeting that he thinks “it’s an immoral relationship” when an executive takes home $12 million a year and employees are barely making a living.
So the company’s profit-sharing plan allows workers to gain a piece of what has been an enlarging pie. Schnatter takes home $3.5 million in annual pay, which, he said at the GLI gathering, is far below what compensation consultants told him is acceptable, given the scale of the $4 billion in annual sales and $25 million in pre-tax profits, Schnatter said then.
The only other Kentuckian on the list is B. Wayne Hughes, 83, with a net worth of $2.8 billion. Hughes cofounded a storage company called Public Storage and owns a farm in Lexington , according to Forbes.