Tickets on Sale for Annual Luncheon

February 20, 2023. Louisville, KY. – Host of “American Ninja Warrior” Matt Iseman will be the featured speaker at the Kentucky Derby Festival’s annual They’re Off! Luncheon Presented By BAE Systems, Fifth Third Bank and Heartland on Friday, April 21. The doctor-turned-comedian strives to inspire others with his motto that laughter is the best medicine when it comes to overcoming obstacles.

From the ER to TV! When Iseman made the decision to step away from his career in medicine to pursue comedy, his dad – a world-renowned physician – gave him a single piece of advice that he still lives by to this day: “Life is short, do what makes you happy.” The physician put his father’s words into action and now entertains audiences across the globe as a comedian and television host.

“We always say at the Derby Festival that we’re in the business of fun. What better way to kick-off the festivities than with someone whose known around the country for making people laugh,” said Matt Gibson, Derby Festival President & CEO. “We look forward to welcoming Matt to Louisville to tell jokes, talk ninja warriors and entertain our guests with his inspiring stories.”

In addition to hosting the four-time Emmy nominated “American Ninja Warrior,” Iseman also helmed its latest spinoff, “American Ninja Warrior Junior” on Peacock. His knack for television hosting landed him an Emmy on the home makeover show, “Clean House.” He’s also starred in countless commercials and numerous sitcoms, as well as being a regular on “The Kelly Clarkson Show” and for his daily hosting of Peacock’s live morning coverage of the 2020 and 2022 Olympic broadcasts.

Iseman’s ongoing battle with Rheumatoid Arthritis has led him to become a strong supporter of the Arthritis Foundation, and his fight with Renal Cell Carcinoma has steered him to become a spokesperson for the American Cancer Society.

The They’re Off! Luncheon, first held in 1957, serves as the time-honored kick-off to each year’s Kentucky Derby Festival. It’s the second-oldest event on the Festival schedule.

The luncheon begins at 11:30 a.m. on April 21 in the Grand Ballroom of the Galt House Hotel – site of the festive event since 1974. This year’s event will also feature the presentation of the Heartland Volunteer of the Year Award and the Fifth Third Bank Silver Horseshoe Award for service to the community. Tickets are $100 each or $800 for a table of eight. To purchase tickets or for more information, call (502) 584-FEST or visit KDF.org.

Iseman joins Lily Tomlin, Robin Roberts, Larry King, Leslie Stahl, Sam Champion, Terry Bradshaw, Erin Andrews, Magic Johnson, Bob Costas and James Earl Jones in a long list of luminaries who have entertained They’re Off! Luncheon audiences for more than 60 years.

Presenting Sponsors for the event are BAE Systems, Fifth Third Bank and Heartland. Contributing Sponsors are The Galt House Hotel and Kentucky Proud. Media Sponsor: Louisville Business First. Supporting Sponsor: Monticello Banking Company.

June 21 - June 21