Former Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning sold his shares to 31 Papa John's locations in the Denver market. (Getty Images)
Peyton Manning, the retired NFL quarterback and Papa John's pizza spokesman, reportedly sold his stake in 31 Papa John’s pizza locations around Denver just two days before the NFL and the pizza chain ended their partnership in late February.
Manning's stake was part of a six-year joint venture with Papa John’s International, said Peter Collins, a spokesman for Papa John’s.
Collins said a new franchisee, who owns locations in other markets, had purchased Manning's locations and assumed ownership.
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Peyton Manning sells Denver-area Papa John’s Pizza shops http://bit.ly/2Fh6LuS9:05 PM - Mar 6, 2018
But don't expect Manning, the former Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos star, to disappear from the chain's TV commercials.
“Peyton remains an official Papa John’s spokesperson and brand ambassador as part of his long-term agreement with the brand,” Collins said in a statement to Denver's FOX 31.
The news comes amid a tumultuous year for the Kentucky-based pizza chain. In January, Papa John’s founder and CEO John Schnatter stepped down after criticizing the NFL, saying that national anthem protests by some players had hurt TV ratings and thus hurt pizza sales, the Denver Post reported.
Schnatter later apologized for his remarks.
Two days after Manning's sell-off, Papa John’s competitor Pizza Hut became the NFL’s official pizza sponsor.
Manning purchased the pizza stores in 2012 while playing for the Broncos. He retired in 2016.
Bradford Betz is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @bradford_betz.