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Colts' Jonathan Taylor using Toppers Pizza investment to raise money for charity

By Nick Grossman
Taylor in 2020 became a franchisee of Toppers and is hosting a charity event at one of the four Toppers locations that he co-owns in WisconsinToppers Pizza

Colts RB JONATHAN TAYLOR is using his investment in the Toppers Pizza chain to help raise funds for a nonprofit in Madison, Wis., this weekend. Taylor in April 2020 became a franchisee of Toppers and on Friday is hosting a charity event at one of the four Toppers locations that he co-owns in Madison, where he went to school at UW. He will be at the store that he lived right down the street from in college, matching every pizza ordered with a pizza donation to local nonprofit the Lussier Community Education Center. He was introduced to the LCEC while at Wisconsin, and Taylor immediately appreciated the impact the center seemed to have on kids in the community. Although an internship with the center ultimately was not in the cards during his college days, Taylor said he “always kept that place close” because he saw they were “going to put things in the community where it was well needed.”

STRICTLY BUSINESS: Becoming a Toppers franchisee was not originally Taylor’s idea. Toppers Pizza CEO SCOTT GITTRICH was the one who first suggested it. Gittrich mentioned to Taylor how many athletes have traditional investments with businesses, but Taylor said he knew he could “do something kind of different” with Toppers. Toppers was “always something that was near and dear” to Taylor, so he jumped at the ownership offer. “It was really touching to me because Scott felt like that was the best way for me to be involved with Toppers because he felt how much passion I have for Toppers and how much I appreciate Toppers for getting me through a lot,” said Taylor.

OVERCOMING COVID CHALLENGES: Most of Taylor’s tenure as a franchisee has overlapped with the COVID-19 pandemic, and he has been inspired by seeing people continue to “try to support the business that they love.” Taylor said, “From my perspective, it kind of took, I don't want to say a tragedy, but you know, a major event, and you really get to see the impact that you have on people through your service, through Toppers’ service.” Taylor was struck by the “impact that you can have through a business.” He said, “Being in the NFL, being able to impact young children as a role model, it was interesting to see how I could have an impact in a different role.”

LIVE AND LEARN: Taylor has often heard from older players about the importance of learning how a business works because so many have ideas without knowing how to act upon them. On watching and learning from Gittrich, Taylor said, “The one thing I wanted to know by the time I'm finished playing is how does the business work.” Taylor said he has “always kind of had a business mind, but the first step is learning.” He added, “If I'm able to learn without even starting a business, that will just give me a leg up in the future. I'm able to start a business on my own, and I'm able to eliminate some of those mistakes that I've seen or have learned from Scott.”

WORKING TOGETHER: Taylor said working with Gittrich has made a significant impact on his outlook into the business world: “I'm truly thankful because there are a lot of presidents and owners of different organizations who would love to just have an NFL athlete on their on their team, on their roster, and be able to utilize their name, image, and likeness and not even think about teaching them their side.”

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