Retired NFL great Peyton Manning sold off his stake in 31 Papa John's franchises just two days before the league and pizza chain split up their longtime partnership, the Denver Post reported Tuesday.
Manning had a stake in the Denver-area restaurants for six years. Somebody else has already stepped in to take the place of the former Denver Bronco and Indianapolis Colt.
"The franchisee that purchased the market is excited about the future of our business and assumed ownership of all Papa John’s locations in the Denver, [Colorado], market on February 26, 2018," Peter Collins, a Papa John’s spokesman, told the Denver Post.
February 26 was just two days before the drama-filled split between the NFL and Papa John's after a tumultuous year for the two brands. The pizza patriarch himself, Papa John's founder John Schnatter, in November tried blame waning sales on NFL players who protested during the national anthem to speak out against the oppression of black people in the United States. By January 1, Schnatter was no longer the CEO of Papa John's. Manning seemingly had a close relationship with Schnatter: He kissed the then-CEO on the cheek while celebrating on the field after winning Super Bowl 50 in 2016.
It wasn't long before the NFL had a new pizza partner after its break-up with the papa. They almost immediately had a new flame in Pizza Hut.
"With a focus on family, friends and fun, Pizza Hut has the creativity we are looking for in a partner and we look forward to working together with them to make the at-home NFL experience more exciting than ever for our fans," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.
Manning, like the NFL, has had a long relationship with Papa John's and it's one he's not abandoning completely. The frequent pitchman will still serve as a spokesman for the company, so you might just see him in Papa John's commercials despite the fact that he sold his stake in his restaurants.