Everything You Need to Know About the 2018 Kentucky Derby: Celebrities, Crazy Hats, and an $18 Bet That Paid Off
Each year, the Kentucky Derby is a day to remember. Besides the fast horses, there are big hats, bigger celebrities, and exciting bets. America’s longest-running sporting event, the Derby has been held at Churchill Downs every year since 1875. And if you didn’t tune in 2018, you missed some pretty exciting stuff.
Below, check out everything you need to know about the 2018 Kentucky Derby. Get the inside scoop on the celebrities who attended. Take a peek at the most ridiculous hats that people wore. And get all the details on the $18 bet that netted a Texas woman $1.2 million!
1. Fans arrived in dazzling hats
NBC notes that despite the rain and the muddy conditions on the track, derby fans showed up in “Outrageous hats and wild-patterned suits.” Forbes reports that at the 2018 Kentucky Derby, as every year at the event, fans and celebrities alike arrived in “dazzling hats.” Roses remain the official flower of the derby. So, unsurprisingly, many people showed up in hats festooned with the blooms.
This year, fans also showed up in hats decorated with feathers, tulle, silk, horses, and horseshoes. As Brit + Co reports, some of the more outlandish hats at this year’s event featured a rice bowl, tubes of colored netting, mini sombreros, feathers, and a beer bottle.
Next: These people showed up for the event, too.
2. Celebrities showed up in style
As expected, there were plenty of celebrities in attendance at the 2018 Kentucky Derby. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers made his annual appearance at the event. Former Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten attended with his wife. Forbes reported that “Olympic skaters-turned-announcers (and fashion critics) Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski did not disappoint with their red carpet outfits.”
Actors Anthony Anderson Blair Underwood also walked the red carpet, as did musicians including Joey Fatone, Kid Rock, and Boyz II Men’s Shawn Stockman. Sean “Diddy” Combs also took his daughters to the event.
Next: This is what it would have cost you to attend.
3. People paid $75 for general admission tickets
Money reports that it would actually cost quite a bit to enjoy the “most exciting two minutes of sports” in person. General admission tickets — which grant you entry, but no assigned seat — cost $75 at the 2018 Kentucky Derby. The price of the “average” ticket in clubhouse seating reached $648, Money reports. And you could spend upwards of $6,000 if you wanted the best seats in the house.
Plus, the rest of the weekend would have still cost you handsomely. As Money noted before the race, “The average cost of even a budget hotel in Louisville for May 5 weekend is $361 a night — roughly 160% above the average, according to travel booking site Hipmunk.”
Next: A $1,000 cocktail was for sale.
4. $1,000 mint juleps were for sale, and benefited Jennifer Lawrence’s charity
Most people know that the mint julep remains the official cocktail of the Kentucky Derby. But did you know that at 2018’s event, you could have purchased a $1,000 mint julep? As CNBC reports, Kentucky bourbon distillery Woodford Reserve formulated the recipe with ingredients sourced solely from Kentucky, including bourbon, sorghum simple syrup, Kentucky Colonel mint, and a garnish that included a rose petal from the Garland of Roses.
But what made the drink so expensive was the vessel it came in: a handcrafted sterling silver Bluegrass cup made in an edition of just 90. Proceeds benefited the Jennifer Lawrence Arts Fund. But people who couldn’t shell out $1,000 for a cocktail could pay $11 for a regular mint julep instead.
Next: An $18 bet won this woman more than $1 million.
5. A Texas woman won $1.2 million with an $18 bet
You’d think that if you bet just a few dollars on a horse race, you aren’t likely to get much of a return, right? CBS affiliate KENS5 reported that Margaret Reid of Austin, Texas, won a “pick five” bet. She had to bet on the winner of five races, the last of which was the Kentucky Derby.
Reid picked correctly, and won $1.2 million after betting just $18. “It was an amazing feeling yes, that you won a really big, like a really big ticket. A mini-lotto if you will,” she told KENS5. Reid plans to use the money to take a vacation, to send her daughter to college, and then to invest.
Next: The jockey, trainer, and owners of the winning horse were big winners, too.
6. The winning horse, Justify, earned more than $1 million
People who bet a few dollars on Justify aren’t the only ones wealthier after the 2018 Kentucky Derby. The New York Times reports that the winning horse, Justify, earned a $1,432,000 paycheck for his jockey, trainer, and owners. Plus, the fans who sat in the ran to watch the race got a reward, too.
As the Times reports, Justify “rewarded his thoroughly soaked backers with $7.80 on a $2 bet to win.” Justify’s jockey, Mike Smith, goes by the nickname “Big Money Mike.” This year, the 52-year-old Smith became the second-oldest jockey to win the derby.
Next: Justify could go on to win this distinction.
7. Justify could win the Triple Crown
The Washington Post reports that no sooner did Justify cross the finish line at the Kentucky Derby than thoughts turned to the next race: the Preakness Stakes in two weeks, and the possibility of a Triple Crown. Justify became the first horse since 1882 to win despite not racing as a 2-year-old.
And come May 19, his trainer, Bob Baffert, will seek to replicate the 2015 Triple Crown success he had with American Pharaoh.
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