Budweiser says it didn’t pay Broncos’ Peyton Manning to mention it

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While some football players fresh off a Super Bowl shout at the cameras they want to go to Disney World, Peyton Manning says he would’ve rather pound a few Buds.

The Denver Broncos quarterback was oddly specific about his Anheuser-Busch product of choice, mentioning Budweiser at least twice during his postgame interviews live on CBS leaving the millions of people wondering if they witnessed a native ad.

“I’ll take some time to reflect. I’ve got a couple of priorities first,” he told a CBS Sports reporter in the first interview. “I want to go kiss my wife and my kids. I want to go hug my family. I’m going to drink a lot of Budweiser tonight.”

The reaction to the endorsement was greeted with bewilderment:

Manning’s tacky mention may have sounded like a paid endorsement, but Anheuser-Busch said it wasn’t. “For the record, Budweiser did not pay Peyton Manning to mention Budweiser tonight,” tweeted Lisa Weser, the brand’s head of communications. “We were surprised and delighted he did.”

The odd plug raised more than a few eyebrows since the NFL forbids active players to endorse alcoholic products. Manning, 39, might’ve been dropping a hint he was retiring, but he’s mentioned Bud Light before in a 2014 post-game press conference, saying  “What’s weighing on my mind is how soon I can get a Bud Light in my mouth.”

While Budweiser didn’t pay Manning, the brand did receive a windfall of attention. Just one of Manning’s mentions gave the brand $1.6 million lift in brand recognition value, according to sponsorship analytics firm Apex MG Analytics, with both plugs totaling more than $3 million. That’s enough to partially recoup just one of the brand’s several Super Bowl commercials, which reportedly cost $5 million each.

Budweiser was quick to react, sending the Broncos 50 cases of beer to the team’s afterparty, ESPN reports. On Twitter, Budweiser also went into overdrive hyping Manning’s mentions: 

With all of this free and unexpected attention, Anheuser-Busch employees are probably also drinking a lot of Bud today, too.

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