We're Number 1.
We're also Number 1. And Number 1. And Number 1. And ...
For a state that doesn't have the population or beaches of California, the sunshine of Florida, or the sheer metropolitan swagger of New York, Kentucky is something truly special.
If you've lived here for any length of time, that sense of specialness has settled comfortably into your bloodstream. If you're new to the area, don't worry, it shouldn't take long.
The section you're reading right now is designed to celebrate all that is superlative about Kentucky. Go to Go Big Bluegrass special section.
As with many things in Central Kentucky, this list, of course, starts with basketball — and a University of Kentucky team that sent the state to partying in 2012 after winning the eighth national championship in its storied history.
That win inspired the Herald-Leader staff to consider the many other ways in which living in the Bluegrass makes our collective chest puff with pride.
Yes, we know Kentucky also has its share of social and economic problems, and we cover those often. This section is intended more as a celebration of what's right, good and top-notch about this unique place.
And the list goes much deeper than basketball — something that became clear once we started brainstorming other areas of life and business where Kentucky is, without question, at the top of the heap.
In this guide, Herald-Leader writers explore Kentucky's chart-toppers, areas where Kentuckians and their state truly shine in ways that can be seen locally and, in many cases, internationally.
You'll also find commentaries and appreciations from other writers on what makes this state special. They include:
Tom Leach, the "Voice of the Wildcats," who taps into the state's passion for the Wildcats.
There's "Recovering Politician" Jonathan Miller, who writes about the Bluegrass State's out-sized political influence.
Carnegie Center director Neil Chethik examines how this place has built an argument that it is the Literary Arts Capital of Mid-America.
Columnist Tom Eblen contemplates the legendary joy of top-quality Kentucky bourbon.
Author and former Herald-Leader racing writer Mary Jean Wall looks at how we became the "horse capital of the world."
And former Herald-Leader environmental writer Andy Mead argues that Kentucky's varied and breathtaking landscape is second to none.
We hope you enjoy this section, and the portrait it paints of a state that owns bragging rights in more categories of life, pop culture, commerce, sports and politics than you might expect. As the saying goes, We're Number 1.
Peter Baniak is the editor of the Herald-Leader. Follow him on Twitter, @pbaniak. By phone, (859) 231-3446.