Former Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning sold his stake in 31 Papa John's pizza shops in the Denver area last month before the NFL switched to Pizza Hut as an official sponsor.
Papa John's spokesman Peter Collins confirmed the news to Tamara Chuang of the Denver Post on Tuesday and noted Manning will remain a "celebrity spokesperson and brand ambassador" for the company.
The longtime NFL star, who originally purchased 21 stores in 2012, sold his stake to an existing franchisee who already owned locations in other U.S. markets, per Collins. The new owner expected to rehire all of the existing employees.
Manning has appeared in numerous commercials with Papa John's founder John Schnatter, who stepped down as the company's CEO in December, over the years.
Schnatter was also on the field following Super Bowl 50 in 2016 to congratulate Manning for the Denver Broncos' victory over the Carolina Panthers.
On Feb. 28, the NFL announced the change from Papa John's to Pizza Hut as its pizza sponsor.
"We know many of our fans enjoy pizza while watching NFL games, and we are thrilled to have Pizza Hut, an industry leader and one of America's favorite brands, as an official league sponsor," commissioner Roger Goodell said.
"With a focus on family, friends and fun, Pizza Hut has the creativity we are looking for in a partner, and we look forward to working together with them to make the at-home NFL experience more exciting than ever for our fans."
Schnatter had drawn criticism for comments he made about the NFL players' protests during the national anthem hurting the company's sales. No reason was given for the sponsorship switch, however.