Friday, July 30, 2010
can't win unless you play
HBO had a documentary directed by Jeffrey Blitz (Spellbound) that examined the history and seductive power of lotteries and profiles a few jackpot winners whose lives were changed dramatically - some for the better, some for the worst, by winning huge sums of cash. This piece was amazingly interesting and confirmed what I always thought about cashing in on monies not earned. We buy a ticket once a week for kicks but truthfully, hope my Dad wins. Winning the lottery has been his passion since he retired 15 years ago. He firmly believes he will, too! I have heard too many sad stories of how people who won millions were stalked and pressured to share (one guy almost fell victim to a hit man hired by his family!) Many of the lives turned sour, and in this documentary, some felt estranged from family and friends. Their connections were severed and proved the point that too much money does not buy happiness. There seemed to be a recurring sadness to the stories portrayed in this piece.
and tonight's lucky numbers are...
Odds are that you believe your best shot at getting rich is winning the lottery = 1 in 5. Odds you will actually hit the jackpot in a powerball lottery = 1 in 195,249,054. Is it fate, destiny or luck? In 1612, a tailor named Thomas Sharplisse became the first lottery winner of the New World. Profits from that lottery financed Jamestown, the earliest American settlement. Soon the country was in the grip of lottery fever; every town large enough to have a courthouse also had a lottery wheel. In 1823, Congress created a Grand National Lottery to support the construction of Washington, D.C., but the lottery's manager, Mr. Gillespie, ran off with all the money. In 1894, President Harrison called the lottery "an evil of vast proportions." To stop the corruption, it was banned in every state of the Union. The lottery returned in 1964 with a top prize of $100,000. In 1981 the highest jackpot hit $5,000,000. In 2009, the record rose to a new high of $390,000,000.
take a chance
70% of lottery tickets are quick picks, random sequences generated by computer. The rest are carefully chosen by players who believe their numbers are special. The day after US Air flight 1549 crashed into the Hudson River without the loss of a single life, the numbers 1549 were so frequently played ticket sales had to be shut down for fear that if the numbers hit, the lottery would lose millions. The winning numbers in the New York lottery pick four turned out to be 1548.
clarence jackson jr.
Every year, a vast amount of prize money is never claimed by its winners. Up to 2% of all lottery jackpots go uncollected. That's an estimated $570 million in prizes kept by state lotteries. Lottery officials refer to an unclaimed prize as a Clarence Jackson Jr. In 1995, Mr. Jackson bought a ticket for the Connecticut lottery. One year passed before he found his old ticket and discovered he won $5.8 million dollars three days after the deadline. He sued Connecticut...and lost, never getting a cent. The biggest jackpot never claimed was a winning ticket from a 2002 powerball lottery worth $51.7 million. State lotteries know only a tiny handful of tickets will match all numbers but one for the runner-up prize, but one day in 2005, a staggering 110 people won the runner-up powerball prize. Nothing like it had happened before; the lottery owed unexpected millions. State officials hired a fraud investigator who found all the winners had played the same numbers printed inside a Chinese fortune cookie!
losing tickets, but keep the faith
During economic downturns people historically cut spending across the board, but after 2008, in the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, many states have seen lottery sales increase dramatically. Of the 43 states with lotteries, 22 have set all time records. Every year Americans spend $7 billion on movie tickets, $16 billion on sporting events, $24 billion on books, and $62 billion on lottery tickets. More than half of all American adults play the lottery, making it, by far, the most popular form of paid entertainment in the country.
We were wowed by this documentary and it makes you think about how powerful it can be. Many people dream of becoming rich by winning the lottery and some spend a huge chunk of their time finding various ways to play. I personally try to affirm I have all I need, but that's me. Whenever we encountered a close call with our sons and they pulled through, we always call my Dad and tell him "we won the lottery - our boys are ok." We still buy a ticket to be part of the world that does, but think about it, if we were to win, we would be removed from that scene. What would we do if we didn't have that conversation of if I win the lottery, I would...
don't stop believing xo