Luke Bryan Teases 'Crazy Shenanigans' with CMAs Co-Host Peyton Manning: 'It's Just a Special Night' – PEOPLE

Luke Bryan Teases 'Crazy Shenanigans' with CMAs Co-Host Peyton Manning: 'It's Just a Special Night' – PEOPLE

Rachel DeSantis is a writer/reporter covering music at PEOPLE. She has held various roles since joining the brand in 2019, and was previously a member of the human interest team. As a music writer, Rachel interviews everyone from rock-and-roll legends to up-and-coming stars for magazine feature stories and digital news stories. Rachel is based in New York City, and previously worked as an entertainment reporter at the New York Daily News after getting her start as an Entertainment Weekly intern. She has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.
Country superstar Luke Bryan and NFL great Peyton Manning may seem an unlikely duo — but when the longtime pals come together to host the CMA Awards in November, it’ll all make sense.
Bryan, who recently partnered with the National Pork Board, will return as host for his second year in a row, and is more than ready to have Manning by his side (so long as the athlete isn't singing!).
"Peyton's always been a huge country music supporter and fan, and obviously he's a ginormous star beyond being a football star," Bryan tells PEOPLE. "He touches a different audience than me, so I think it helps us get into more households and maybe more people tune in to see what kind of crazy shenanigans he and I may be up to."
The "Country On" singer, 46, says he and the two-time Super Bowl champion have been friends for years, and while they don't play football together, they do golf and hunt together, and Bryan also shows Manning, 46, videos of his kids playing football to get some tips. That wisdom, however, is not a two-way street.
"Around the campfire he'll attempt to sing, but we won't recommend that for the general public," Bryan jokes of Manning's pipes. "I'm always ready to learn from Peyton, and I think Peyton's got this. It's just fun hosting that night, and it's just a special night in country music. And to be the Master of Ceremonies and watching people's lives change is pretty special stuff."
While it’s safe to say Manning won’t be auditioning for American Idol, Bryan is readying his return to the ABC series, and recently signed on for the 21st season, which will mark his sixth year as a judge alongside Katy Perry and Lionel Richie.
"There's no egos involved with us," he says of the chemistry that makes the trio work. "We leave our egos at the door and we love using our knowledge of this industry to help these kids. I think the heart and soul of the show feels really good, and I think when people sit down with their children, they know that they can watch something pretty heartwarming."
Meanwhile, Bryan’s got plenty else to look forward to. The star says he’s about halfway through recording a follow-up to his 2020 album Born Here Live Here Die Here, and will kick off his annual Farm Tour later this month.
The "Buy Dirt" singer has played a series of shows each fall nearly every year since 2010, and uses the dates as a way of raising money for farmers. This year's tour, which begins its six-date run in Indiana on Thursday, is supported by the National Pork Board, with whom he recently partnered to spread awareness as to the standards of pig farming in America.
"I think farming as an industry has gotten so much more technologically advanced," he says. "Pig farming certainly has even gone beyond some of those advancements of how they do their farms. Ethicalness of animals is a very big thing these days, and cleanliness… It's just important for the American public to know that."
Bryan, who grew up in a farming family in Georgia, believes “education is key” when it comes to what we consume, and considering he’s a big barbecuer, emphasizes the importance of keeping informed.
"Any time you're dealing with packaging pork and sending it across the world, it's got to be done right," he says. "So I think any anxieties about what pig farming and what that process looks like, I hope I can shed a different light. And people can feel good about when they eat their bacon."

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