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Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Country Checkers Challenge TM Featured Country Music Stars Kellie Pickler and Thomas Rhett as ‘Kings’ of the Checkerboard

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Two of country music’s stars – Kellie Pickler and Thomas Rhett – teamed up with 12 of their colleagues who became real-life checker pieces today at the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Country Checkers Challenge TM during the 2015 Academy of Country Music(R) (ACM) Party for a Cause(R) Festival at Globe Life Park in Arlington, TX.

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Country Checkers Challenge Winning Team Captained by Kellie Pickler

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Country Checkers Challenge Winning Team Captained by Kellie Pickler Played for the USO (Photo: Business Wire)

“We’ve always been supporters of country music and seen it as a natural extension of who we are as a brand…time spent on the front porch with family and friends,” said Chris Ciavarra, Cracker Barrel’s senior vice president of marketing. “For years, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store has celebrated the spirit of music through our partnerships with the Grand Ole Opry and through our exclusive music program.”

Through a Cracker Barrel $35,000 donation to benefit ACM Lifting Lives(R), $25,000 was donated to USO, the winning team, and $10,000 to DAV. The event was held leading up to the 50th Annual ACM Awards, airing LIVE this Sunday, April 19, at 8 p.m. ET on the CBS Television Network.

“This event was not about us, it was about our servicemen and servicewomen and our veterans. It’s not just their sacrifices, but the sacrifices their families make, too, every day,” said winning team captain Kellie Pickler. “A fun event like this reminds us that there are so many things to be thankful for. I’m grateful for companies like Cracker Barrel, the ACMS and Lifting Lives for shining a light on the USO and DAV.”

To join the conversation, go to Facebook or Twitter, #countrycheckerschallenge.

“The Country Checkers Challenge partnership provided us with a great opportunity to recognize two military organizations – the USO and DAV to help them continue the great work they do in support of active and retired military servicemen and women,” Ciavarra said.

Playing on a giant outdoor checkerboard, Pickler and Rhett captained teams of country music artists who were the “checker pieces” in a live game viewed by thousands of fans. The artists participating in the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Country Checkers Challenge included: Team Rhett – Rhett Akins, Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney (Dan + Shay), Danielle Bradbery, Scotty McCreery, and Cassadee Pope; and Team Pickler: Lauren Alaina, Chase Bryant, Kristian Bush, Stephen Barker Liles and Eric Gunderson (Love & Theft) and Jamie Lynn Spears.

“We are proud to partner with Cracker Barrel and thrilled to have won the checkers game,” said Christy Hartsell, USO Vice President of Corporate Alliances. “Having the support of our long-time friend Spanky Gibson and USO tour veteran Kellie Pickler also makes for a special day to come together in support of our nation’s troops and their families. Partnerships like this play an important role in allowing us to continue our nearly 75-year-old mission.”

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store has a long history of supporting military families through the Wounded Warriors Project, National Military Families Association, National Museum of the United States Army and the USO.

About Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc.

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. provides a friendly home-away-from-home in its old country stores and restaurants. Guests are cared for like family while relaxing and enjoying real home-style food and shopping that’s surprisingly unique, genuinely fun and reminiscent of America’s country heritage…all at a fair price. The restaurant serves up delicious, home-style country food such as meatloaf and homemade chicken n’ dumplins as well as its made-from-scratch biscuits using an old family recipe. The authentic old country retail store is fun to shop and offers unique gifts and self-indulgences.

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. (Nasdaq:CBRL) was established in 1969 in Lebanon, Tenn. and operates 634 company-owned locations in 42 states. Every Cracker Barrel Old Country Store(R) location is open seven days a week with hours Sunday through Thursday, 6 a.m. – 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 6 a.m. – 11 p.m. For more information, visit crackerbarrel.com.

About ACM Lifting Lives(R)

ACM Lifting Lives(R) is the philanthropic arm of the Academy of Country Music dedicated to improving lives through the power of music. Through partnerships with artists and strong ties in the music industry, ACM Lifting Lives develops and funds music-related therapy and education programs, and serves members of the community who face unexpected hardships through its Diane Holcomb Emergency Relief Fund. Through generous donations and the support of artists and fans, ACM Lifting Lives is able to fund everything from disaster relief and helping communities in need, to music education in schools and music camps for those with disabilities, to supporting programs that use music therapy as a means to help our veterans and wounded warriors, while providing grants to help them ease back into life. For more information, please visit www.ACMLiftingLives.org.

About the USO

The USO lifts the spirits of America’s troops and their families millions of times each year at hundreds of places worldwide. We provide a touch of home through centers at airports and military bases in the U.S. and abroad, top quality entertainment and innovative programs and services. We also provide critical support to those who need us most, including forward-deployed troops, military families, wounded warriors, troops in transition and families of the fallen. The USO is a private, non-profit organization, not a government agency. Our programs and services are made possible by the American people, support of our corporate partners and the dedication of our volunteers and staff. In addition to individual donors and corporate sponsors, the USO is supported by President’s Circle Partners. We are also supported through the United Way and Combined Federal Campaign (CFC-11381). To join us in this important mission, and to learn more about the USO, please visit uso.org.

About DAV

DAV empowers veterans to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity. It is dedicated to a single purpose: fulfilling our promises to the men and women who served. DAV does this by ensuring that veterans and their families can access the full range of benefits available to them; fighting for the interests of America’s injured heroes on Capitol Hill; connecting veterans and their families with employment resources and educating the public about the great sacrifices and needs of veterans transitioning back to civilian life. DAV, a non-profit organization with 1.2 million members, was founded in 1920 and chartered by the U. S. Congress in 1932. Learn more at dav.org.

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