Peyton Manning sold all his Papa John’s pizza franchises … right before Pizza Hut became new NFL sponsor

Retired NFL quarterback Peyton Manning jettisoned his Papa John’s pizza franchises just days before the pizza chain and the NFL announced the end of their partnership.

The former Broncos quarterback sold his stake in 31 of the pizza company’s Denver-area locations in late February, just two days before Papa John’s announced it would be ending its seven-year sponsorship of the National Football League, Fox News reported.

(AP Photo/AJ Mast)

A new franchisee with locations in other areas had reportedly assumed ownership after purchasing Manning’s locations, which the former Indianapolis Colts star had a stake in as part of a six-year joint deal.

“After six successful and rewarding years, Peyton Manning and Papa John’s International have sold their stake in 31 Papa John’s locations which were part of a joint-venture in the Denver Colorado market,” a spokesman for Papa John’s said in a statement to Denver’s FOX31.

But Manning will not be abandoning his Papa John’s relationship.

“Peyton remains an official Papa John’s spokesperson and brand ambassador as part of his long-term agreement with the brand,” the company said.

Manning, who retired in 2016, had purchased the stores in 2012 while he was playing for the Broncos.

Papa John’s founder and CEO John Schnatter stepped down as Chief Operating Officer of the company he founded in January after igniting both praise and backlash last year when he criticized NFL players staging protests during the national anthem. Schnatter announced that the kneeling players were hurting the pizza company’s business.

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(Photo by Jack Dempsey/Invision for Papa John’s/AP Images)

Schnatter later apologized for his comments.

Just days after Manning unloaded his Papa John’s franchises, the NFL announced its new partnership with the pizza company’s rival Pizza Hut which will officially kick off with the NFL draft in April.

Papa John’s continues to retain a partnership with 22 individual teams.

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