CMAs Host Peyton Manning Reveals the Country Star He Can’t Wait to Meet
NFL legend Peyton Manning may not officially be part of the country music world, but he's still got his finger on the pulse of the genre.
He and Luke Bryan are set to co-host the 2023 CMA Awards for the second year running on Wednesday night (Nov. 8), and Manning says that one of the most exciting parts of hosting the show is meeting and getting to know the stars.
"It's been a lot of fun for me, and I really do value these friendships and get to make new ones each year," he told press on Tuesday, the day before this year's awards show.
But Manning also says that he's still waiting to meet 2023's most-nominated artist.
"I did not get to meet Lainey Wilson last year," he pointed out, before turning to Bryan and joking, "If you'll introduce us?
"She's a Louisiana native. I always enjoy meeting fellow Louisianans so I look forward to meeting her today or tomorrow," he adds.
As someone who grew up in New Orleans and spent his college years at Knoxville's University of Tennessee, Manning comes honestly by his love of music. He explains that his childhood in New Orleans gave him an appreciation for live music right off the bat, but it wasn't until college that he started to dig into the country genre.
"I wasn't necessarily a huge country fan growing up in New Orleans because I wasn't exposed to [that particular genre as much], country music is right in front of you and I just jumped right in and embraced it," he explains.
That was when he first started meeting the stars in person, too.
"I met Kenny [Chesney] on the sidelines of a Tennessee game. We got to be good friends. [I] saw him perform several times. He performed at my wedding, which was a great honor," Manning goes on to say. "That's just been the coolest part for me, is getting to know these artists as friends as well, not just entertainers."
Manning has history with Jordan Davis, too: In fact, his first meeting with the "Next Thing You Know" star dates back about two decades.
"I met Jordan about four years ago and he told me that we'd met before. I said, 'I don't recall that,'" Manning recounts.
"He said, 'I was a high school football quarterback from Shreveport [La.] and I came down for your high school football camp in 2004.' I said, 'Obviously, we coached you right into country music,'" he jokes. "I love stories like that."
The 2023 CMA Awards are set to air on Wednesday (Nov. 8) at 8PM ET on ABC. The show will take place live at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena.
*Remember: The best way to watch the CMAs is on ABC, with ToC on your phone.
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Gallery Credit: Billy Dukes