Interestingly, he made the decision days before news broke that Papa John's and the NFL would no longer work together as national sponsors. Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick had kneeled during the anthem to protest what he said was police mistreatment of black men, and other players started kneeling as well.
According to the Sporting News' Michael McCarthy, both Fox and ESPN are willing to pay Peyton Manning $10 million a year to join their respective broadcast teams. The Louisville, Kentucky-based company distanced itself from the group, saying that it did not want them to buy their pizza.
The former Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos quarterback sold his holdings in the Denver-area restaruants on February 26, just before Papa John's and the National Football League pulled the plug on what had been a long-lasting corporate sponsorship.
Peter Collins, Papa John's spokesman, confirmed in an email that Manning had sold his stake after "six successful and rewarding years".
Manning, who played at the quarterback position for the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos, became a Papa John's franchisee in 2012.
February 26 was just two days before the drama-filled split between the National Football League and Papa John's after a tumultuous year for the two brands. "The NFL has hurt us by not resolving the current debacle to the players' and [team] owners' satisfaction", he said in a conference call with investors. He's also letting go his stake in the company as a whole.
"We know our potential is so much greater than our results, and we are taking significant steps to reinvigorate our record of profitable growth and value creation", Steve Ritchie, CEO and president, said in a statement at the time. The stores have been acquired from another existing Papa John's franchisee.
Papa John's last week reported fourth-quarter earnings below Wall Street expectations.