NFL Legend Peyton Manning Sells Papa John's Stake

Papa John's spokesman Peyton Manning sells his 31 Papa John's franchises

Peter Collins, Papa John's spokesman, confirmed in an email that Manning had sold his stake after "six successful and rewarding years".

The move follows controversy surrounding Papa John's founder John Schnatter, who stepped down as company CEO in December after naming NFL players' decision to take a knee during the national anthem as the reason for poor pizza sales.

Two days after Manning's sell-off, Papa John's competitor Pizza Hut became the NFL's official pizza sponsor.

Manning originally bought into the company when he came to Denver in 2012 and has appeared prominently in several Papa John's ads, some alongside Schnatter. These actions build on all the strengths of the Papa John's brand and include a fresh perspective around marketing driven by new media and creative partnerships, hiring a new PR partner, and bringing online a new engine to drive our Papa Rewards loyalty system. He's also letting go his stake in the company as a whole.

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It looks like the bad news just keeps coming for Papa John's: theDenver Post reports that Peyton Manning, former Broncos quarterback, sold off his stake in 31 Denver area Papa John's locations just two days before the National Football League dropped the pizza chain as its sponsor.

Manning will still be Papa John's celebrity spokesperson as part of a long-term agreement, the report says. The original Papa John's deal was set to expire after the 2020 season.

"The NFL has hurt us", Schnatter said in a November conference call. The stores have been acquired from another existing Papa John's franchisee. Global sales lifted 2.6 percent and 4.4 percent in the fourth quarter and full year, respectively.

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