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Volume 26 No. 7
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A Day In The Life: NBC's Donna Brothers Talks Kentucky Derby

"A Day in the Life" is a feature in SBD examining the daily habits of interesting personalities in sports business. This week, NBC Sports' DONNA BROTHERS walks us through her day at the Kentucky Derby and who she'll mingle with afterward.

5:00am: I’m an early riser pretty much every day. But on Derby day there’s just not enough hours in the day, so I’ll get up at 5:00am. I am also a meditator and so that’s really the thing that kind of keeps me centered. There is chaos in covering two live shows back to back with the Oaks on Friday and Derby on Saturday. So, I wake up at five o’clock and I’ll meditate for a little bit. I might even do a little bit of yoga. I’ve never been a big breakfast eater. That probably comes from being a jockey. The last thing you want to do is have something in your stomach while you’re bending over the horse.

9:30am: We have our first meeting. With the traffic you just never know cause its Derby traffic and so I’ll probably leave the house at something like 7:30 or 8:00 and head out there to make sure that I can get into the track. I go to the first meeting, which is the NBC Sports Network Derby undercard format meeting. Then our next meeting will be at 10:30, and that’s the NBC Kentucky Derby format meeting. Then by 12:00 I’ll be on horseback and I’ll usually cover Race 5 for the NBC Sports Network undercard, but it has a dual purpose. One of the purposes is covering the race, but the second purpose is its sort of a sound check.

  12:30pm: We’ll have a little bit of rehearsal of the elements of the show for about an hour. We want to make sure that what we’re going to talk about and the graphics match together seamlessly. I’m vegetarian and I’m gluten free so I usually bring my own lunch. I have a personal chef that I use periodically, and she’ll be at our house Monday of Derby week. A lot of times she will make stuff that is sort of like deconstructed salad ingredients so all I have to do is maybe grab a handful of kale, grab some roasted butternut squash, a handful of walnuts, sunflower seeds, maybe a little Manchego cheese, cut up a half of an avocado and throw it in there and that’s my lunch. 

Brothers will be the first person to interview the winning jockey after the Derby has concluded
Photo: NBC SPORTS

2:30-7:30pm: On the air.

7:00-8:30pm: When the show is over we’ll all meet back in the compound and pat each other on the back or tuck your head in embarrassment because you said something you wish you hadn’t said. We usually come back there and decompress a little bit and talk about the race like “Wow that was impressive” or “I can’t wait to see what happens in two weeks at Preakness.”

8:30-10:00pm: I’m usually home within an hour of us being off air. Everybody who lives in Louisville goes to the Derby, loves the Derby or has a Derby party will have people in town. I’ll come home to a house full of people. My mom, my sister and my brother will be here, my sister-in-law will be here, and I actually have a cousin coming this year. I have two friends coming also. One of them is JULIE KRONE, who is the leading female jockey in the nation. She has been a long long-time friend of mine. We’ll have food here for people to eat. For the non-vegetarians it’ll be like some chicken and coleslaw and for vegetarians like me there will be a big salad that’s ready to go. If you were in anything other than sweats or pajamas you’d be over dressed on Saturday night at our house.

11:00pm: I usually like to be in bed between 9:30-10:00, but on Derby night I won’t get to bed until about 11:00 because I’m eating dinner at like 9:00 and then I have friends and family here. Another thing we like to do -- we’ve got the show itself DVR’d on both TVs. We like to watch the race again. Maybe we watch a few of the feature stories and watch the race and talk about the horses that ran well and the ones that didn’t show up, things like that.

Know someone who should be featured in "A Day in the Life"? Shoot us an email at jcarpenter@sportsbusinessdaily.com.