Friday, March 6, 2015. Louisville, KY.   The Kentucky Derby Festival’s 59th Annual They’re Off!® Luncheon is sure to be a slam dunk with ESPN’S Jay Bilas as the featured speaker. Bilas, an acclaimed broadcaster, attorney, author and athlete, will address approximately 1,500 Derby Festival supporters and patrons in attendance at the Festival’s annual kick-off luncheon.  The event will be held on Friday, April 17, at 11:30 a.m. in the Grand Ballroom of the Galt House East Hotel – site of the festive event since 1974.

“This is our Game Day and we couldn’t think of a better person to help kick it off than one of basketball’s strongest voices,” said Mike Berry, KDF President and CEO. “Even though he is a Blue Devil, we look forward to hearing his thoughts on the tournament run this year.”

Since 1995, Jay Bilas has been a college basketball analyst for ESPN/ABC and today serves as a game and studio analyst and expert courtside color commentator, working more than 40 games per season and co-hosting the popular ESPN show, College GameDay. He also regularly contributes to SportsCenter, ESPN.com and ESPNEWS, where he provides commentary on coverage of the NBA Draft and NCAA Final Four. Bilas was twice named Best Game Analyst by Sports Illustrated and has received several Emmy nominations for Best Studio Analyst. He was awarded “Best Column of the Year” by the US Basketball Writers Association and the “Distinguished Young Alumni Award” from Duke Law School, where he earned his degree in 1992. Jay currently resides in Charlotte, North Carolina where he has been a litigation attorney at the firm Moore & Van Allen, PLLC since 1992.

The They’re Off Luncheon, first held in 1957, serves as the time-honored kick-off to each year’s Festival. Jay Bilas joins Dick Vitale, Terry Bradshaw, Bill Walton, Archie Manning, Greg Gumbel, Magic Johnson, Julius Erving, Larry King, Bob Costas, Robin Roberts, Cawood Ledford, Phil Simms and Howard Cosell in a long list of luminaries who have entertained They’re Off! Luncheon audiences for the past 59 years. This year’s luncheon will also feature the presentation of the Kentucky Derby Festival’s Volunteer of the Year Award and the Fifth Third Bank Silver Horseshoe Award for service to the community.

Tickets for the event cost $85 each or $680 for a table of eight. To purchase tickets or to get additional information, please call (502) 584-FEST or visit www.kdf.org. Contributing sponsors for the event are Fifth Third Bank and Kentucky Proud with Media Sponsor Business First.

Since 1956, the Derby Festival has worked to bring the community together in celebration. The Festival is an independent community organization supported by 4,000 volunteers, 400 businesses and civic groups, Pegasus Pin sponsorships and event participation. This involvement has made the Festival the largest single attended event in Kentucky and one of the leading community celebrations in the world.