In 1988, Richie enrolled at the University of Kentucky, playing in the same building where he earned statewide popularity during his prep career. Like at Clay County High School, Richie’s number 32 jersey hangs from the rafters. Under coach Rick Pitino, Richie helped lead an upstart bunch of seniors to an unlikely Elite Eight appearance. It was there, on March 28, 1992, that Duke’s Christian Laettner ended their season (and college careers) on arguably the greatest buzzer beater in tournament history.
Richie’s basketball playing days ended, as they had begun, in Kentucky. He did not play in the NBA or try his hand at a career in an overseas league. Instead, he graduated with a double major in agribusiness management and agricultural economics, and held jobs in a variety of fields in Lexington and Clay County, including sports marketing and insurance sales. “You have to be realistic,” Richie says. “When you graduate from the University of Kentucky you have a window of time and opportunity. I know a lot of guys who went and chased a dream for a couple years and then they come back here and people are like, ‘Where? Who? What?’ It’s been different with me—the people of this state have always supported me.”
In 2003 Farmer ran for, and was elected to, the position of Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner. It was actually Richard Sr. who had urged his son to run for office. He told Richie, “You’ve got three boys. To get involved and to do something positive, make this a better place for them, would be the greatest gift you could ever give.” A successful reelection bid followed in 2007; four years later, he opted to run for lieutenant governor, sharing the Republican ticket with State Senate President David Williams.
The Williams-Farmer ticket was easily defeated, amid swirling reports that Richie rang up hefty bills on personal expenses and extravagant accommodations at events like the Sweet 16 and Kentucky State Fair. In March of 2013, he was charged with 42 counts of violating state ethics laws. Among the accusations levied were that Farmer created no-show positions for his friends, inappropriately used government funds, and had his employees conduct errands such as construct-ing a basketball court in his backyard. Richie entered into a plea bargain to avoid decades of prison time. He would go to federal prison for up to 27 months and owe $120,500 in restitution.