The "Kentucky Derby $5 Million Pay Day" went uncollected May 1, but one contestant won a $25,000 consolation prize by selecting the top five finishers in the Derby in exact order.
Churchill Downs Inc. through its kentuckyderby.com Web site, offers $5 million if someone selects the exact order of finish for all Derby starters. (This year, there were 18 horses in the gate.) None of the 250,000 players did so.
Nan Sako of Parma, Ohio, won the $25,000 consolation prize. By picking the first five finishers in order, Sako finished ahead of 21 players who selected the first four finishers, and 486 contestants who picked the first three in order.
Sako made her selections by watching racing coverage on NBC, reading about the Derby in the Cleveland Plain Dealer
, and listening to advice from family members. She said she plans to use the prize money to help pay for her son's wedding and perhaps a vacation.
"It couldn't come at a better time in our lives," Sako said. "I'm really thankful."
The number of contestants increased 45% from last year's 172,000 entries. Tens of thousands signed up to play in the final hours that entries were accepted.
The 2004 contest was open to residents of the United States and Canada (except Quebec), as well as England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.