LOUISVILLE, Ky.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Papa John’s, the Official Pizza Sponsor of the NFL, today announced Los Angeles-based The AFFL as the fantasy football league that’s “better than the rest” – winner of a nationwide search that generated online entries coast-to-coast and highlighted by a smack-laden popular vote on Facebook.

While the entire AFFL wins the ultimate fantasy football bragging rights for at least a year, league commissioner Raffi Lalazarian also wins a trip for himself and a guest to represent the nation’s 27 million fantasy football fanatics at the 2011 NFL Draft in New York City, courtesy of Papa John’s.

The AFFL (Armenian Fantasy Football League) was the majority choice of an expert judging panel that included NFL All-Pro tight end Antonio Gates and ESPN Senior Fantasy Analyst Matthew Berry. The league also won America’s vote over the four other finalists on Papa John’s Facebook page, which has more than 1.4 million “likes.”

“As the official pizza sponsor of the NFL, and being known for ‘Better Ingredients, Better Pizza’, Papa John’s set out to find the fantasy football league that was worthy of being deemed better than the rest,” said Papa John’s Chief Marketing Officer Andrew Varga, a fantasy football player himself who served on the judging panel. “Each finalist, and frankly many of the entries who were not named finalists, made compelling cases for why they should be chosen. But Raffi and The AFFL, like Papa John’s Pizza, were a cut above the rest with their fantastic website, podcasts, substance, creativity and overall passion for delivering a better fantasy experience for its members.”

The AFFL (www.theaffl.com) began in 2005 with 12 long-time friends, all of whom have remained in the league to compete for the coveted and customized AFFL Championship Ring, which bears the league’s creed: “Survival of the Luckiest.”

Beginning in September, the AFFL and fantasy football players and commissioners entered their leagues in Papa John’s “Fantasy to Reality” contest via essays submitted at www.papajohns.com or the company’s Facebook page. Five finalists were selected Nov. 30, and the popular vote was conducted on Papa John’s Facebook page December 1 through 12. During this period, each league also submitted to an intense fantasy football Q&A by the expert panel led by ESPN’s Berry.

“Saying a decision was really tough is a cliché but in this case, it’s actually true,” said Berry. “This contest brought out tons of amazing leagues and all of our finalists truly embody the fun and spirit of fantasy football. But no league demonstrated their love of the game more than the AFFL. Their close friendship, hilarious trash talk and passion with things like a comprehensive personal website, weekly podcast and many YouTube videos were among the reasons they are better than the rest.”

“We thank Papa John’s, Andrew Varga, Matthew Berry, Antonio Gates, the entire Fantasy to Reality judging panel, as well as our rabid fans for declaring us the fantasy football league that is better than the rest,” said The AFFL Commissioner Raffi Lalazarian. “We carry the honor proudly and will continue to provide the highest standards of fantasy fun and fellowship to all our fans across the United States.”

The other four finalists will not go away empty-handed; Papa John’s is awarding each person who entered the leagues a $100 Papa Card to use at their 2011 fantasy draft party. The leagues are: Excessive Celebration, entered by Brent Johnson of Atlanta; The Dude Abides, entered by Hunt Meacham of Charlotte; Southern Illinois Fantasy Football, entered by Donald Basta of Carterville, Ill.; and The Coaches Poll, entered by Peter LaBauve of Columbus, Ohio.

Papa John’s is in the first year of a multi-year sponsorship with the NFL and Papa John’s is also the Official Pizza of the Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins, New York Giants, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams, Tennessee Titans and Washington Redskins.

Headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, Papa John’s International, Inc. (NASDAQ: PZZA) is the world’s third largest pizza company. For 10 of the past 11 years, consumers have rated Papa John’s No. 1 in customer satisfaction among all national pizza chains in the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). Papa John’s also was honored by Restaurants & Institutions Magazine (R&I) with the 2009 Gold Award for Consumers’ Choice in Chains in the pizza segment. Papa John’s is the Official Pizza Sponsor of the National Football League and Super Bowl XLV, XLVI and XLVII. For more information about the company or to order pizza online, visit Papa John’s at www.papajohns.com.

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