Some fans of the Christian-owned Hobby Lobby chain panicked this weekend when Joe Wurzelbacher, better known as Joe the Plumber, reported on his news site that Hobby Lobby was closing all 500 of its stores in 41 states.
Joe the Plumber gained national fame when he famously asked presidential candidate Barack Obama about his small business tax policy during one of Obama’s stops in Ohio in 2008.
“When you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody,” Obama said during an impromptu debate with Joe, who later called Obama’s plan socialism.
Joe’s confrontation with Obama launched the prospective business owner to fame, which he used to catapult himself into political activism and and start his own news site, JoeForAmerica.com. On Saturday, though, one of his writers published a piece about how Hobby Lobby Founder and CEO David Green wrote an emotional letter about his company filing a lawsuit due to the Obamacare contraceptive mandate.
The JoeForAmerica story used the letter as evidence that Hobby Lobby may shut down and wrote the headline, “Hobby Lobby Just Announced Plan To Close ALL Stores – Founder Reveals The Alarming Reason Why…!” Fact-checking website Snopes.com pointed out, though, that nowhere in Green’s letter does he say he intends to close his business, Plus, his letter is actually from an op-ed USA Today piece from 2012.
Versions of JoeForAmerica’s headline have been used for numerous similar stories since 2012. They have been revived again in the past month and have been circulated around social media as fact. Hobby Lobby’s own newsroom does not feature an announcement about any closures. In fact, Snopes points out that Hobby Lobby actually won their lawsuit in 2014 when the Supreme Court decided that they and other for-profit companies could have a religion exemption from the contraceptive coverage mandate with Obamacare.
In addition to that, Hobby Lobby is planning to open 60 new stores, according to a story by KHOU in May.