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By LARRY VAUGHT
Jennifer Palumbo is a WDKY-TV (Fox 56) news anchor, but sheâ€™s also a huge sports fan, especially when it comes to the University of Kentucky.Â She goes to many UKâ€ˆgames with her husband,â€ˆJoe (a UK graduate), as a fan and often at tournament time covers the Kentucky fan angle for the Lexington TV station.
Palumbo was at Saturdayâ€™s game in Nashville with her husband sitting on the first row behind the Kentucky bench and next to actress Ashley Judd and admits it was her best UK experience ever.
â€œWhen you consider how fantastic that game was, my answer has to be no.Â We have great seats in Rupp Arena, but I had never sat right behind the bench.Â Joe and I are friends with John and Ellen, and he was so kind to give those great seats for the game,” Palumbo said. “It wasÂ incredible to be that close to the action, under the basket where we could see the players and even hear what coach Cal was saying to the team.Â I have lived in Kentucky for two national championships but wasn’t at either of the wins.Â I’m sure if I get to witness national championship number eight, it will replace the 2012 Vandy experience at the top of my list.
â€œJoe and I went to Newark last year for the NCAA Tournament. All the â€˜expertsâ€™ said Kentucky couldn’t beat Ohio State, and then they said we couldn’t beat North Carolina. Of course, we thought it could happen but figured if UK lost, we still got a great getaway to NYC. We were there for both wins and said it was the greatest UK road wins we had every experienced. But it didn’t have the atmosphere of Memorial Gym. We were completely outnumbered by Vandy fans, yet I could still hear â€˜Go Big Bluâ€™” chants. If you add in the amazing game, UK at Vandy 2012 is now at the top of my list.â€
I wondered if sitting by Judd, another die-hard UK fan, or perhaps getting to see ESPN’s Erin Andrews was the bigger thrill. Palumbo had a different take.
â€œActually my biggest thrill was getting to be at the game with Joe. I knew how tough it would be to get tickets. We are blessed to be friends with John and Ellen, and I asked for the tickets to take Joe for his birthday. What a birthday present!” Palumbo said.
“I met Erin at coach Cal’s women’s clinic in 2010 when we emceed it together. I also got to see her again when he was honored by the V Foundation for Cancer Research in Sarasota last May. I didn’t even get to say hi to her in Nashville because she was working. We met Dick Vitale in Sarasota as well. You may laugh, but he is actually my celebrity crush. I love his passion for sports and for making a difference. Some in the media seem to enjoy trying to knock down Kentucky and John Calipari, but â€˜Dickie Vâ€™ doesn’t. He understands who John Calipari is and how much he loves the players and the program.
â€œI was really excited to sit by Ashley Judd at the Vandy game because I love how much she enjoys the games. I’ll never understand fans who go to games and never stand up and cheer. If I made a fool of myself on national TV, so be it. I had a blast at the game and wouldn’t trade that game experience for anything! I love that we did high-fives and talked about the game. My only regret is that I didn’t get a picture with her.”
No picture? Why not?
“I am superstitious and don’t like to take photos until the game is over and UK has won. I took one of my husband and her but said I wouldn’t ask her for one until the game had ended. When it did, I asked her for a photo. She was moving fast toward the exit, and she said she would do it if I walked with her,” Palumbo said.
Now comes the part any true UK fan, including Judd, has to love.
â€œIn that split second I decided I would rather stay with the fans and watch the team celebrate the big win. I didn’t want the fun to end even if it meant I didn’t get a photo with Ashley,” Palumbo said. “So if anyone finds a good photo of Ashley and me cheering, please let me know. But it was worth it to see the players and coach Cal enjoying their memorable moment in Memorial! At least I did get my photo taken with Dickie V.â€
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You can follow her on Twitter at @JPalumboFOX56. There will be more with Palumbo Tuesday that you won’t want to miss, either, as it will give you a chance to get to know a lot more about the p0pular news anchor.