LENEXA, KS, Apr 18, 2011 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) -- It was a men's college basketball tournament like no other -- buzzer-beaters, Cinderella stories, 67 games, one national champion and no second chances. But for the 254,793 players who competed in ESPN's Round by Round Pick 'Em, an online fantasy game sponsored by Applebee's, there were plenty of second chances. Round by Round Pick 'Em allowed players to make selections for the most immediate round -- and accumulate points along the way.
And for one, Vanderbilt University student Shane Levan, the first place winner in the online fantasy game, a trip for two to ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn. awaits.
"I loved Round by Round Pick 'Em because it was unlike any other bracket contest," said Levan, a 20-year-old from Tullahoma, Tenn. "About half of my upset picks were right, and after the second round, I was almost perfect in my picks."
His pick for national champion: Butler.
But, he explained, "That was all strategy. I thought Connecticut would win but I needed to pick Butler based on the standings going into the championship game."
Levan also won a $200 gift card from Applebee's, in addition to a trip to New York City and a tour of the ESPN studios. Four runners-up will receive $200 Applebee's Gift Cards as well.
"I was excited when I realized I was going to win the $200 Applebee's gift card," said Levan. "But, now I get that and a trip to ESPN!"
"Applebee's worked hand-in-hand with ESPN to create a unique fantasy game with a prize that was unique," said Ed Erhardt, president, customer marketing and sales for ESPN. "We look forward to hosting Shane and his guest at the ESPN studios."
"I can't believe I am going to ESPN headquarters. It hasn't quite hit me yet but the minute I step on that plane, game on," said Levan. "I always go back to my dorm to watch SportsCenter after my morning classes. My friends are so jealous right now it's funny. Maybe I'll get them a t-shirt."
Applebee's (www.applebees.com) is the world's largest casual dining chain, with approximately 2,000 locations in 49 states, 16 countries and one U.S. territory. Based in Lenexa, Kan., Applebee's takes pride in providing a welcoming, neighborhood environment where everyone can enjoy the dining experience. Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar(R) is a DineEquity, Inc. (NYSE: DIN) brand, and is franchised and operated by Applebee's Services, Inc. and its affiliates.