An online fundraiser set up for an Indiana pizzeria that drew controversy after the owners said they would decline to cater a same-sex wedding concluded Friday evening, raising a grand total of $842,387.
The fundraiser, started by TheBlaze TV host Dana Loesch and contributor Lawrence Billy Jones III, received 29,160 donations from individuals across the country who wanted to financially support the owners after they were forced to close their doors due to a sudden wave of threats.
Donations are now closed. Grand total of $842,387 raised for #MemoriesPizza. You stood in the gap w them. Thank you. http://t.co/iB4VhMKbL6— Dana Loesch (@Dana Loesch)1428105820.0
The owners' comments came as a controversial religious liberty law signed by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) drew nationwide attention.
Speaking to TheBlaze, Jones said he was stunned by the amount ultimately raised for pizzeria since the GoFundMe account was established Wednesday.
"It's unbelievable," he said. "We never thought it would get that big. It just took off."
[sharequote align="right"]"It's unbelievable. We never thought it would get that big. It just took off."[/sharequote]
The initial goal was to raise $25,000 for the pizzeria, but the target incrementally increased after it was met within mere hours of the fundraiser being set up.
Jones said that the owners have been set up with a financial adviser and that "big things" are expected from them.
"They didn't ask for this," he said. "They didn't ask to be attacked and they didn't ask for the funds."
Asked to respond to people who said hate was the chief reason people donated, Jones said he could not disagree more.
"I believe it was love. I believe people donated out of love. I believe it was the love and the fight for freedom that united us — gay and straight," he told TheBlaze.
Since the fundraiser, Jones also said that he has been subjected to a wide array of threats.
"Death threats. Attacks on my family," he said. "Then you go through the whole thing about being a black conservative. ... A lot of people in the gay community are upset, but then there are a lot of people in the gay community who gave to this cause of freedom."
Jones said that he was not certain when Memories Pizza would re-open their doors, but added that more details should be available after the owners meet with their financial advisor.
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