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Random Thoughts

Jackpot Dreams

Hudson Cooper
Posted 3/24/22

The phrase “you have to be in it to win it” is one of those advertising slogans that occasionally rattles around the neurons and synapses of my brain. It competes for attention with other …

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Random Thoughts

Jackpot Dreams


The phrase “you have to be in it to win it” is one of those advertising slogans that occasionally rattles around the neurons and synapses of my brain. It competes for attention with other memorable slogans such as “Where’s the beef?” and “Sometimes you feel like a nut. Sometimes you don’t.” and “Just do it.”

Unlike those slogans for Wendy’s, Almond Joy and Nike which try to entice me to purchase a hamburger, candy bar or three-hundred dollar athletic shoes, “you have to be in it to win it” is encouraging me to make a simple investment that could reward me with life-changing money. It serves to remind me to plunk a few dollars down to purchase a lottery ticket.

There are many different lottery games some exclusively sold in New York State, while others like Powerball are offered nationwide. New York State began selling lottery tickets in 1967 with the original intent for all proceeds to go to fund education. To date, it has generated over thirty billion dollars towards education.

Hopefully, some of that education money was spent on teaching mathematics and statistics. That knowledge would come in handy when you are deciding on selecting your numbers or just going for the easier, computer generated “Quick Pick.” Although conventional wisdom says that 70% of lottery winners use quick pick, that statistic is misleading. It turns out that about 80% of those who play the lottery choose quick pick. So, of course that reflects the higher percentage of winners.

For myself, I use the quick pick method simply because it is easier. Getting a game card at the gas station and then filling in the circles of my selected numbers is both confusing and frustrating. There are so many choices to pick from. Birthdays of relatives, digits of my cell phone number and miles on my car’s odometer all compete with my “lucky” numbers for inclusion on my lottery card. So, I walk up to the attendant and usually get a laugh from others on line when I announce that “I’d like to win some money, please.” I get my quick pick tickets and go home to place them in my lucky desk drawer after, of course, tapping them three times for good luck. With a tip of my hat to Stevie Wonder, when it comes to the lottery, I am “very superstitious.”

Years ago, I suffered what I call my lottery nightmare. I bought a ticket to enter a 6 million dollar lottery drawing. Using quick pick, I followed my usual routine and placed it in my desk. The next day after checking the winning numbers, I was crushed. I had 5 out of the posted 6 winning numbers. If that was not upsetting enough, I missed the sixth number by one digit. Instead of a life-changing 6 million, I cashed in for a thousand dollars. But here is the strange part. In order to get my brain to accept the crushing blow, I actually convinced myself that I was getting closer. Now, many years later, I am still chasing the jackpot.

Speaking of jackpots, I find it amazing that so many people only get excited enough to play the lottery when there is one of those enormous, news-making sums. I do not understand people who say, “It’s not worth playing for only a few million dollars.” I play often and at least for a day, imagine what I could do with a few million buckeroos.

I have plans if I should ever hit a big jackpot. I would deposit half in an interest-bearing account. I would use that money to anonymously reward people who do extraordinary things for humanity. Pulling a person off a subway track or saving a family from a burning car would be rewarded with a check to make their lives easier.

So given that my column is “Random Thoughts,” my altruistic endeavor will be known for rewarding “Random Acts of Kindness.”


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