Matthew Vanderpool, a 24-year-old with no college degree, beat a patent lawyer and Air Force veteran in a race to challenge incumbent Republican state Rep. Stan Lee in Lexington's 45th District.
Michael Coblenz, 50, raised $6,000 to winner Vanderpool's $150, according to campaign finance reports.
Vanderpool works for Tempur-Pedic and J. Peterman, has attended Bluegrass Community and Technical College, and is planning to go to the University of Kentucky in the fall.
"It was just a shock for us to win this," said Vanderpool, who said he bought no advertising or yard signs.
He attributed his win to "talking to everyone I meet and being very accessible to people."
"My plan has always been to stay true to myself and talk to people about the issues," Vanderpool said.
He quit plans for school in 2003 when the jet ski he was riding on Lake Cumberland was hit by a drunk driver, Vanderpool says on his Web site. He has been working various jobs since then.
He still plans to attend UK in the fall, though he will probably attend only part-time so he can campaign.
Coblenz was stunned and wondered whether the appearance of Vanderpool's name first on the ballot had anything to do with his win.
"It's more surprising than disappointing," he said, acknowledging that either man would have a hard time beating incumbent Lee.