Peyton Manning has sold Denver-area Papa John’s stores

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Former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning throws a pass during a halftime ceremony at an NFL football game between the Colts and the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017, in Indianapolis. The Colts retired Manning’s jersey during the ceremony. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

 Peyton Manning sold 31 Denver-area Papa John’s stores last week, two days before the NFL dropped the chain as its official pizza sponsor.

The Denver Post reported Wednesday that Papa John’s spokesman Peter Collins confirmed the former NFL quarterback sold his stake to an existing Papa John’s franchisee.

Manning will remain Papa John’s celebrity spokesman and brand ambassador. He wasn’t immediately available for comment.

The NFL and Papa John’s ended their deal Feb. 27, and the league announced a multiyear marketing deal with Pizza Hut the following day. The NFL’s relationship with Papa John’s was strained last year when company founder John Schnatter criticized the league’s leadership over players who protested during the playing of the national anthem.

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