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Every Word Counts In Words With Friends Celebrity Challenge

Zynga and American Express Bring Players and Celebrities Together for a Good Cause

Kristen Bell, Sophia Bush, Jonah Hill, John Legend, Snoop Lion, Eva Longoria, Edward Norton and Paul Pierce Throw Down in a Wordy Showdown; Player Donations Powered by CrowdRise

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 26, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Zynga, (Nasdaq:ZNGA), the world's leading provider of social game services, today announced its partnership with American Express to launch the first-ever Words With Friends Celebrity Challenge. Beginning today, players can join in on the action simply by playing Words With Friends for their favorite celebrity team. The challenge features Kristen Bell, Sophia Bush, Jonah Hill, John Legend, Snoop Lion, Eva Longoria, Edward Norton and Paul Pierce all competing against one another – with help from their team – for a chance to grab a piece of a $500,000 winnings cache for their charity of choice.

Players can join a team starting today and celebrity gameplay kickoffs off on Thursday, September 27, and run through October 3. Players can play for free by downloading Words With Friends on iOS or Android, and follow the celebrity matchups at . As part of the experience, players can also donate directly to a celebrity's charity of choice thanks to a partnership with fundraising site CrowdRise.

"We hope that everyone joins in and plays with their favorite celebrity. When it comes to charity, every word counts, and there is no easier way to donate to a good cause then by simply playing a few rounds of Words With Friends," said Travis Boatman, senior vice president of mobile at Zynga. "We are excited to be working with our founding sponsor American Express for the Words With Friends Celebrity Challenge, and want to thank our celebrities for having fun with our players to raise awareness for their charities."

"Giving back to the community is a hallmark of American Express, and we are thrilled to be able to partner on this incredibly innovative, engaging and fun program that will bring together celebrities, fans and charities in the spirit of competition to benefit six amazing charities," said Susan Hammes, vice president of digital brand and social media development at American Express. " Words with Friends is an extremely powerful social game that has shown its ability to connect millions of users. We wish the best of luck to the celebrities and fans who will join us in the Words With Friends Celebrity Challenge."

Here's how players can get involved:

  • Join and Play – Join a celebrity team and help them win a chunk of the $500,000 for their cause by playing the most words in your own Words With Friends game. Every word played in a game during the length of the tournament will help boost the team's ranking. The higher the rank, the more money the team wins for charity.
  • Give – You can still get involved, even if you're not a wordsmith. By making donations, fans will be able to compete for cool prizes, including autographed items, like basketballs from Paul Pierce and posters from Kristin Bell and Jonah Hill.

American Express wants to help players make every word count by giving away free Word-O-Meters. The Word-O-Meter measures the strength of your word to help you make the best possible moves. When players join a celebrity's team and play their first word in any Words With Friends game, they immediately receive 50 free Word-O-Meters.

"We are all about making fundraising fun through competition and games at CrowdRise, so this couldn't be a better partnership for us," said Edward Norton, who in addition to competing in the tournament is also the founder of CrowdRise. "Zynga knows a thing or two about social gaming, and it's awesome to see them using that knowledge to engineer impact."

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