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CONNING THE CON MEN OF KENTUCKY
Joe McGinniss
May 05, 1969
Two college boys hitchhiked 1,000 miles to Louisville, drank freely (and free), sneaked into the Derby—and even got to see the race
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May 05, 1969

Conning The Con Men Of Kentucky

Two college boys hitchhiked 1,000 miles to Louisville, drank freely (and free), sneaked into the Derby—and even got to see the race

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First I made a sign. I bought a roll of red tape that was supposed to glow in the dark. I cut the tape into strips and made letters on a white cardboard square: KEN. DERBY.

"That's not how you abbreviate Kentucky."

"Sure it is."

"No, it's k-y period; not k-e-n."

"People will know what I mean."

I left Worcester, Mass. at 1 o'clock the next afternoon, a Thursday. It was cold and there was rain. I got a quick ride the four miles to the entrance of the turnpike. Then I stood for a long time in the rain, holding the sign across my chest.

A car stopped. The driver leaned across the seat.

"Who's Ken Derby?"

"Nobody. This means Kentucky Derby. That's where I'm going."

"Oh. I thought you were promoting some politician." (There was a primary in Massachusetts that year.)

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