Dinner with Cal winner a big UK donor

Event with Ashley Judd benefits Haitian relief

bfortune@herald-leader.comJanuary 24, 2010 

The cat's out of the bag on who bid almost $100,000 to have dinner with University of Kentucky men's basketball coach John Calipari and actress Ashley Judd.

Walking off with the high bid was Paul Orberson, a guy who made millions selling long-distance for Excel Telecommunications Inc.

An ex-basketball coach, Orberson, formerly of Danville, is a major UK supporter, footing the $1.6 million bill for a major office complex for UK football coaches. The Paul Orberson Football Office Complex, an expansion of the Nutter Training Facility, opened in 2002.

Laughing during an interview following UK's game with the University of Arkansas, Orberson said he had a friend do all the bidding on eBay, so people wouldn't know he was involved.

"We were trying to run the bidding up to $100,000," he said. It stopped at $98,100, "So I gave $100,000" to make it a nice round number, Orberson said.

The dinner for Orberson and five guests will be at Calipari's house on Richmond Road. Judd's personal chef, Cathy Lewis, will do honors in the kitchen.

Orberson said he had not decided who he will take along.

The dinner was one of a number of items being auctioned on eBay as part of Hoops for Haiti, last Sunday's telethon led by Calipari and his undefeated team that raised more than $1 million in about five hours.

Tom Mills, Orberson's friend and business partner, did the bidding.

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