Updated Friday, 8:30 p.m.:
The crowd-funding campaign for Memories Pizza has now taken in more than $842,387.
Updated Thursday, 1:40 p.m.:
The GoFundMe campaign has more than doubled since Thursday morning, passing $177,000 by early afternoon. The page has only been live for 19 hours.
Talk about a big slice of pie. A crowd-funding campaign collecting money for the Indiana pizza place that incurred the Internet’s wrath after its owners said they would not be willing to cater a gay wedding has raised more than $62,000 in just a few hours.
The campaign was launched on GoFundMe late Wednesday by TheBlaze.com, the conservative media outlet founded by Glenn Beck. Lawrence Billy Jones III, a Blaze contributor, is identified as the campaign’s creator. As of Thursday morning, funds were pouring in at about $3,000 per hour.
Backlash against the Walkerton, Indiana, establishment began quickly after owners Kevin and Crystal O’Connor said in an interview with local news station WBND-TV that they support the state’s highly controversial religious freedom law, which critics say could lead to discrimination against the LGBT community. The owners said they have no problem serving gay customers but would not want to cater a gay wedding because same-sex marriage violates their Christian faith.
“If a gay couple was to come and they wanted us to bring pizzas to their wedding, we’d have to say no,” Crystal O’Connor told the station.
Online response was fast and furious, with critics trashing the business’ Yelp page and mocking the business with a website parked on the MemoriesPizza.com domain. On Google Maps, the business was changed to “Gay Memories Pizza” and marked with a "Gay Jesus" avatar, the National Review reported.
One social media user threatened to show up at the pizza place and burn it down, the Daily News reported.
In an interview with TheBlaze, the owners said they were forced to close the restaurant due to the backlash and that they had gone into hiding. “I don’t know if we will reopen, or if we can,” Crystal O’Connor told the website.
GoFundMe lets users raise money for just about any reason, although it tends to take a hands-off approach when it comes to ensuring that funds are delivered to their intended recipients. Either way, viral news stories often produce huge sums of cash. In the weeks following the shooting of teenager Mike Brown last year, a GoFundMe effort raised more than $400,000 for the Ferguson, Missouri, police officer who shot him. But it was later revealed that the campaign was launched by a teenager with no connection to Wilson.
Charity watchdog groups say users should generally exercise caution when donating to people they don’t know.
Correction: An earlier version of this story characterized Kevin and Crystal O'Connor as a couple. They are father and daughter.