Kentucky Lottery names Derby City Fanatic winner as 2023 Thundernator

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The winner for this year’s Derby City Fanatic for the 2023 Kentucky Derby Festival has been announced.

U.S. Navy veteran and long-time Kentucky Lottery player Jerry Puckett will serve as the Thundernator for the Derby Festival Opening Ceremonies for Thunder Over Louisville on Saturday.

He will get to provide the Thunder countdown and “zero” ignition to activate the launch system sequence in the Command Center at the Galt House Hotel, according to a release.

His Derby City Fanatic prize package includes numerous one-of-a-kind Derby Festival-themed experiences as well as $500 in spending money from the Kentucky Lottery.

This is something he never thought he would get to experience.

“I play the Powerball and the Mega Millions every week,” Puckett said. “This second chance promotion contest, it’s the first time I’ve entered. I just wanted to see if I could win. And I did!” Puckett was an attendee at the first ever Thunder Over Louisville and that’s where his love of the Derby Festival began. And while he hasn’t attended every Thunder in-person, he does make a point to watch every year on television. With his long history of loving the fireworks show, he is most excited about kicking things off by launching the sequence to start the show on Saturday night.

The Kentucky Lottery said there were more than 10,000 entries in the promotion.