Bige Jones, covered in Kentucky blue, said excitement for the Big Blue Madness campout is something that runs deep in his bloodlines and he's not afraid to show it — literally.
Jones lifted up his T-shirt to show a University of Kentucky tattoo on his chest. Jones has seven UK tattoos with plans to add more, and he drives a Kentucky blue Ford Focus with "Go Big Blue" streaming across it.
Jones, who has camped out for 10 years, said he does it for two reasons: "Just to meet new people and getting autographs."
"I just love the atmosphere and our players," but you have "got to be quick on your feet" in order to get a spot.
An enthused crowd participated Wednesday in the annual run for real estate to camp out for free tickets to the University of Kentucky's Big Blue Madness, the hugely popular open basketball practice that kicks off the season. The start to the traditional campout wasn't without incident as four people were treated for minor injuries.
During the campout, school officials stressed the importance of placing tents in the appropriate area for ticket distribution as well as consideration for the safety of others.
Those first in line have a better chance at getting tickets and the best seats in the arena.
At 2 p.m. Friday, UK officials will issue control cards to campers, who must have the cards to get tickets. Each person will receive four tickets. No more than four people are allowed in each tent.
Tickets will be distributed after 7 a.m. Saturday, and those with cards must be in line by 7 a.m., according to the athletic department's news release.
UK will make some tickets available online through Ticketmaster. Rupp Arena has a capacity of 23,000.
John Hayden, assistant director of media relations, said the number of tickets distributed depends on how the stage is set up for the Oct. 17. practice. The event is for the fans and to show school spirit, he said.
"This is an opportunity for fans to show why we have the best fans in the nation to show up for a practice," Hayden said. "For many, this is the only time they are going to get a chance to see Rupp Arena and the team."
Hayden estimated that there were 600 people camping out. He thought the number would grow as the day continued.
Wednesday was the first time Morgan Todd and her fiancé, Taylor Lacheta, camped out for tickets.
Todd, who was wearing a Snuggie, said she dragged Lacheta out of their apartment on Waller Avenue at 4 a.m. because it was either "go big or go home." And big they went. Their tent was noticeably the biggest. Todd said it was a two-bedroom tent with a living room.
"We just ran up and rolled the tarp out," she said.
The early-morning run to claim spots to put up tents can be bruising. The jostling and minor injuries didn't sit well with some.
Sally Wilson said she was a little disappointed by how some fans acted and left trash on Avenue of Champions.
"We all just have to come together," she said. "We all have one thing in common, and that's UK."
Rick Brizendine reigned supreme for the 13th time, claiming the No. 1 spot for the tickets. He stuck to his usual game plan, having fast sons.
With four tents, more than a dozen lawn chairs and blankets, Brizendine said he and 11 other people have come together over the years and made the campout a family affair. He's been camping out for 29 years and jokingly said he'll retire after next year.
"It's a bit of a hassle," he said. "But you still want to do it because you've established friends and family. This is the one time we see each other."