Papa John's loses Peyton Manning as franchisee, keeps him as spokesman
Former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning will stay on as a Papa John's spokesman, but sold dozens of Denver metro chain stores two days before the Louisville-based brand ended its status as official pizza of the NFL. Manning sold his 31 franchised units of the chain in Colorado just before Papa John's announced the end of NFL sponsorship, a move confirmed in a Denver Post story this week with the chain's spokesman, Peter Collins.
The latest development — the subject of worldwide news coverage — comes nearly five months after Papa John's founder and former CEO John Schnatter said during an earnings call that controversy around the national anthem demonstrations by some NFL players and the NFL's handling of the matter were affecting the chain's sales negatively.
Manning, a Super Bowl-winner and former quarterback for the Denver Broncos, owned his units as part of a six-year joint venture with Papa John's International that began in 2012, Collins told a Denver TV news Fox Network affiliate. Manning will remain as the brand's pitchman and ambassador, and the pizza chain will continue local partnerships with 22 NFL teams.
Since Schnatter's initial statement, the company has apologized and explained that his comments were never meant to be "divisive." Schnatter has since resigned as CEO with the chain and its sales have dropped appreciably. The NFL pizza sponsorship, meanwhile, was claimed by Pizza Hut the day after the league and Papa John's severed ties.