March 27, 2024. Louisville, KY. – Through a PICK 3 and KENTUCKY 5 special second-chance promotion sponsored by the Kentucky Lottery, Louisville resident Leslie Lyon Sr. is this year’s Derby City Fanatic for the 2024 Kentucky Derby Festival. As part of his big win, Lyon will serve as the Thundernator for the Derby Festival Opening Ceremonies: Thunder Over Louisville on Saturday, April 20.

Lyon 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. Lyon’s Derby City Fanatic prize package also includes numerous one-of-a-kind Derby Festival-themed experiences and $500 in spending money from Kentucky Lottery.

“Being the Derby City Fanatic is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the Derby Festival like never before,” said Matt Gibson, Kentucky Derby Festival President & CEO. “This year also marks a special milestone as it’s the 35th production of Thunder Over Louisville and the Kentucky Lottery also turns 35.”

Lyon, a lifelong Louisvillian who lives in Fairdale, entered his PICK 3 tickets for a shot at being the 2024 Thundernator, and it paid off. “I’ve been playing the Kentucky Lottery since it started and PICK 3 is one of my favorite games to play and one of the ones I win on the most,” he said. Lyon is already counting down the days to playing a key role in his first Thunder Over Louisville. “Turning the key (to start the fireworks) is what I look forward to most.”

Kentuckians had the chance to participate in the Lottery’s Fanatic drawing promotion over a two-month period, which kicked off Jan. 15. There were more than 19,000 entries for the promotion.

“Every year we look forward to meeting the Kentucky Lottery’s Derby City Fanatic, and it was a thrill to meet Leslie and his family,” said Kentucky Lottery President and CEO Mary Harville. “The Kentucky Lottery is proud to be a KDF sponsor and to have this lottery winner be the Thundernator, pressing that button to start the largest annual fireworks show in North America on Thunder Day, plus have a front-row spot for some amazing experiences. Our promotion truly creates a lifetime of Derby Festival memories.”

The prize package includes around 10 unique experiences. In addition to being the 2024 Thundernator, the winner will also receive the following:

  • Tickets to the Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport Thunder VIP Rooftop Party;
  • Accommodations at The Galt House Hotel during Thunder Over Louisville weekend;
  • Tickets to the Shepherd Insurance Great Steamboat Race;
  • Tickets to Honda World Festival Day at the Downs on Thurby;
  • Tickets to Republic Bank BourbonVille (attendees must be 21+);
  • A tour of the Kentucky Derby Museum;
  • Private tour at Kern’s Kitchen/Derby-Pie ®; and
  • Official 2024 Derby Festival merchandise/swag, including the 2024 Official Poster
January 11 - April 20
April 11 - April 21
April 20 - April 28