We have to admit that we were very surprised when, immediately after Denver’s Super Bowl 50 win, Peyton Manning, surrounded by cameras, reached over to kiss pizza mogul Papa John.
Manning — the oldest quarterback to win a Super Bowl in the history of NFL — hadn’t even kissed his wife or hugged his family when he turned to John Schnatter, the CEO of Papa John’s, and gave him a kiss on the cheek and a handshake. We did know that Manning was a pizza guy, but we didn’t know that his love for pizza extended quite this far.
This may have seemed like a random move, until we realized that Papa John and Peyton Manning consider each other to be family, well, pizza family. Their relationship goes much deeper than Schnatter sending Manning the occasional free pie with his Friday night take-out order as a thank you for his support. In 2012, Manning invested in 21 Papa John’s pizza franchises in Denver, and today he is the owner of 32 franchises. Peyton also makes regular appearances in the Papa John’s commercials. This football star is certainly not shy about showing his love for a slice of Papa John’s.
Together, Manning and Papa John are a crazily successful money-making team who have worked together to make millions. Perhaps it was this history of sharing their successes that caused Manning to want to take a moment to celebrate this Super Bowl win with Schnatter.
It’s clear that Manning had his celebrations all planned out as soon as the game was over: He repeated his need for a Budweiser in the post-game interviews, and we can’t help thinking that a pizza would be the perfect accompaniment. Papa John’s pizza, Budweiser, and a Super Bowl win sounds like the ideal Sunday night.
This kiss meant a lot to Papa John, as well as to us curious spectators. After the kiss, Schnatter gave a statement which shows just how strong their business partnership, Manning’s place in the pizza world, and the friendship of these two men goes:
“As part of the Papa John’s family, not only is Peyton a successful franchisee, but he’s also a trusted friend who exemplifies quality on and off the field. From player to pizza maker, he’s always carried himself with honor and integrity and we look forward to working with him for many years to come. The entire Papa John’s family wishes Peyton and his teammates congratulations on winning Super Bowl 50.”