April 9, 2015. 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 2nd.  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.”

COVERAGE NOTE: Michael Ernstberger is available for interviews by phone. To arrange, please contact Chip Polston at the Kentucky Lottery at 502-560-1675.

Ernstberger will also be in town on Friday, April 17th. 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 17th.

Ernstberger won a V.I.P. Experience package that includes:  an invitation to the Festival’s annual They’re Off! Luncheon on Friday, April 17; a Second Street Bridge and Command Center Tour also on Friday, April 17; 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 18, 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 2015 Thunder Over Louisville, themed “Boom With A View,” is set for Saturday, April 18, and will be the  will be the 26th annual production. The show is sponsored by Horseshoe Southern Indiana, KentuckyOne Health, LG&E, Meijer, UPS, and Valero.

 Festival Fanatic