Just two days before the NFL dropped Papa John's as its official pizza sponsor last week, Peyton Manning sold his stake in 31 Denver-area restaurants in the pizza chain.
Papa John's spokesperson Peter Collins told the Denver Post that an existing franchisee bought all 31 stores and will rehire all employees. Manning had been a partner in the restaurants for six years with Papa John's International.
The Post reported that Manning remains a spokesperson and brand ambassador for the company. Manning's work for the pizza chain has included appearances in commercials with Papa John's founder John Schnatter. Schnatter came under fire last fall after he blamed the company's sales slump on the NFL's reluctance to control national anthem protests. He resigned as CEO on Jan. 1.
Pizza Hut replaced Papa John's as the NFL's official pizza sponsor on Feb. 28, although Papa John's still has marketing agreements with 22 teams.