Jimmy Johns Owner Jimmy John Liautaud Hunts African Wildlife on Safari-Unproven! 

Summary of eRumor:

Photos that appear to show Jimmy John Liautuad, owner of Jimmy Johns Gourmet Sandwiches, posing with two African elephants and a delta leopard that he hunted and killed in Botswana, Africa.

The Truth:

Photos that appear to show Jimmy Johns owner Jimmy John Liautuad posing next to two dead elephants and clutching a dead leopard have been circulating since 2011 — but there’s never been an admission that the man in the photos is actually Jimmy John, or that he personally killed the animals.

Calls for boycotts of Jimmy Johns restaurants first surfaced in 2011 when Smile Politely, an online magazine based in Jimmy Johns’ home town of Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, posted screen grabs of photos appear to show Jimmy John posing next to two dead elephants and holding a dead leopard. The photos were watermarked by Johan Calitz Safaris, a big-game African hunting guide services based in Botswana:

The photos resurfaced in 2015 when an entrepreneur named Jonah Lupton posted the images with a call for his with 1.1 million Twitter followers to boycott Jimmy Johns:

 

The man in the photo certainly looks like Jimmy John, and comments posted in the original versions actually identify him by name. However, the Jimmy Johns franchise and Jimmy John himself have never verified that the photos actually show Jimmy John. Aside from that, there’s no way to prove from the photos alone that Jimmy John actually killed the animals himself, which is why this rumor remains “unproven.”

In 2010, Johan Calitz Safaris offered a range of African safari hunting packages that ranged in price from $25,000 for seven days to $37,900 for 14 days, according to the site SafariBwana.com:

Hunt in some of the BEST elephant hunting blocks in Botswana, on these late season elephant safari specials and deals with one of Botswana’s longest standing and most reliable outfitters – Johan Calitz Safaris.

Johan has consistantly, over more than 10 years, boasted an ivory average on trophy elephant of between 61 – 63lbs and that Johan Calitz Safaris have a 100% success rate year after year.  Last year they shot over 70 elephant – a tall order!

They consistently take big ivory out of all their areas and their many repeat clients are the best advertisement for their professionalism and service.  Clients must be careful not to compare apples with the many other peanuts on offer out there – these are truly world class elephant hunting safaris

It should be noted that Botswana banned trophy hunting in early 2014, although the practice is still sanctioned in many other African countries, the New York Times reports:

In early 2014, this sparsely populated nation became one of a few African countries with abundant wildlife to put an end to trophy hunting, the practice at the core of conservation efforts in southern Africa. President Seretse Khama Ian Khama of Botswana, a staunch defender of animal rights, stated that hunting was no longer compatible with wildlife conservation and urged communities like Sankuyo to switch to photographic tourism. The decision was cheered by animal welfare groups in the West.

But Botswana is an outlier. Government officials and conservationists in most African countries staunchly support trophy hunting, including Zambia, which is going back to hunting after a short-lived suspension.

In the end, while photos appear to show Jimmy John Liautuad, the owner of Jimmy Johns Gourmet Sandwiches, posing next to dead elephants and a dead leopard, the restaurant and Liautuad himself have never verified the authenticity of the photos. And, again, there’s no way to prove from the photos that Liautuad personally killed the animals. That’s why we’re calling this one “unproven.”