© 2024 Louisville Public Media

Public Files:
89.3 WFPL · 90.5 WUOL-FM · 91.9 WFPK

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact info@lpm.org or call 502-814-6500
89.3 WFPL News | 90.5 WUOL Classical 91.9 WFPK Music | KyCIR Investigations
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Stream: News Music Classical

Kentucky Derby Gate-Crasher Stephen Johnstone Dies at 70

Stephen Johnstone had technique. He was a gate-crasher by hobby—sneaking into exclusive locations at sports events just for the thrill of it.Johnstone crashed the Kentucky Derby winner's circle for the first time in 1963 and most recently this year."It's just a case of pretending, really—acting as though you belong there, and then associating with people who actually do belong there. If you are with them, you're above question," he said in May.Johnstone, well-known for being so elusive, died last week in Milwaukee, his hometown, at 70, according to the Journal Sentinel newspaper.He was a graduate of what was then Bellarmine College. In Milwaukee, heworked for 45 years in public relations.The newspaper added: He was also a gate crasher who managed to run out onto a basketball court as the buzzer sounded at an NCAA championship, sneak into a World Series locker room and stand on the winner's platform at the Kentucky Derby 19 times, writing a memoir about his unusual experiences.Last year, Johnstone recounted his Derby exploits to Louisville magazine. Soon after, WFPL's Devin Katayama and Joseph Lord reported on Johnstone's experiencesgetting into the winner's circle for NPR. Johnstone typically didn't go it alone—he'd bring along friends or family members.He'd said in 2013 that he was retired from crashing the winner's circle, but soon after this year's Derby he sent photos of him once again on the track on Derby Day."I guess Kentucky Derby tradition got the best of me," Johnstone said.