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Kentucky Lottery Picks Festival Fanatic Louisville Man Will Be This Year’s Thundernator

Through a special second chance promotion sponsored by the Kentucky Lottery, Louisville resident Bob Paxton won the opportunity to be this year’s Festival Fanatic for the 2018 Kentucky Derby Festival. As part of his big win, Paxton will serve as the Thundernator for the Derby Festival Opening Ceremonies: Thunder Over Louisville on Saturday, April 21.

At age 62, this will be Paxton’s first ever Thunder experience. He will have the opportunity to provide the Thunder countdown and “zero” ignition to activate the launch system sequence in the Command Center at the Galt House Hotel. Additionally, Bob receives nine other Festival VIP experiences. This includes a ride down Broadway in the Republic Bank Pegasus Parade, a hot air balloon ride, seats on Millionaires Row during Celebrity Day at the Downs, and $500 in spending money!

This is a special win for Paxton, “I was standing in line at Cane’s Chicken getting lunch when my phone rang and the call was from the Kentucky Lottery. I got so excited when I found out I was going to be the Festival Fanatic – everyone in the restaurant knew I’d won! I loved the idea of being the Festival Fanatic, and really wanted to win last year because the experience sounded so terrific.”

Over 5,000 fans entered the promotion which kicked off on February 5th. Players signed in or registered for a Fun Club Rewards account at Once logged in, they were able to submit an eligible non-winning KENO ticket worth $5 or more for a chance to be named the 2018 Festival Fanatic.

Paxton will also be in town on Friday, April 20th. He will visit the Command Center for the first time at 10 a.m. that morning. Media is invited to the Command Center to meet him in person on April 20th.

Paxton won a VIP Experience package that includes: an invitation to the Festival’s annual They’re Off! Luncheon on Friday, April 20; a Second Street Bridge and Command Center Tour also on Friday, April 20; Overnight accommodations for a family of 4 at the Galt House Thunder weekend; and a front row seat in the Command Center on Saturday, April 21, to flip the switch.

Thunder Over Louisville – the Derby Festival’s Opening Ceremonies – is one of nearly 70 events produced by the Derby Festival in the spring. The 2018 Thunder Over Louisville, themed “A Disco Thunder,” is set for Saturday, April 21, and will be the 29th annual production. The show is sponsored by Horseshoe Southern Indiana, LG&E, Meijer, UPS, and Valero.

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