LOUISVILLE, KY - Through a special second chance promotion sponsored by the Kentucky Lottery, 43-year-old Okolona resident Michael Ernstberger, of Louisville, Kentucky, won the opportunity to be this year's Festival Fanatic for the 2015 Kentucky Derby Festival.
As part of his big win, Ernstberger will serve as the Thundernator for the Derby Festival Opening Ceremonies: Thunder Over Louisville on Saturday, April 18.
Ernstberger will provide the Thunder countdown and "zero" ignition to activate the Thunder launch system sequence in the Command Center at the Galt House Hotel. Additionally, Michael receives nine other Festival VIP experiences including 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!
Over 8,000 fans entered the promotion which kicked off on March 2. Players signed in or registered for a Fun Club Rewards account at www.kylottery.com. Once logged in, they were able to submit an eligible Keno ticket worth $5 or more for a chance to be named the 2015 Festival Fanatic.
This is Ernstberger's first big lottery win, declaring, "I've probably won around $100 on a scratch-off ticket before, but never anything like this!"
Ernstberger has only missed Thunder Over Louisville twice and cites the event as his favorite during Festival season.
"After all those years of watching Thunder, I can't believe I'm the guy that gets to kick off the whole thing! I'm very excited and a little scared about the whole thing, and I can't imagine what that moment's going to be like when I turn that key and start the show."