Those who haven't watched the Kentucky Derby in recent years might still picture an anachronistic sporting event in which jockeys push horses to their physical limits, men and women wear antebellum styles with churlish pride, and Southern millionaires pine for a time when the height of technology was the riverboat. While this year's telecast on NBC Sports won't flip the table on the Kentucky Derby and its 142 years of tradition, it will pair the event's compulsive loyalty to past with the media's carnivorous relationship with social media in the present.
The strategy is best encapsulated by this detail: former figure skater and current lifestyle reporter Johnny Weir will wear a hashtag-controlled brooch during this year's Kentucky Derby. Designed by Viget, the horse-shaped brooch will light up and gallop in response to the use of the #WatchMeNeighNeigh hashtag on Twitter — a play on the popular Silento song and the somewhat-dated meme it inspired.
The amazing thing about Johnny Weir, who I suspect is actually a ball of positive energy wearing a human costume, is that a brooch that reacts to a hashtag may be the least amazing thing about his wardrobe. The photo, above, shows Weir wearing last year's Kentucky Derby hat. He is joy incarnate.
Other members of the NBC Sports team, including the equally fantastic former figure skater and current lifestyle reporter Tara Lipinski, will spread their time across Facebook, Snapchat, Periscope, Instagram, Vine, and I imagine any other social media platform that launches between now and when the event airs on Saturday, May 7th at 4PM ET on NBC. To find all those social media handles, visit NBCSports.com/Derby.