Sports Commentary: Lotto

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A few tales of the game of chance

By Mike Forster

  I receive many press releases concerning lotteries.

These releases invariably tell of folks who have won massive amounts of money.    Of course, they're not going to tell me that Joe Schmedlap dropped five bucks for naught in last night's Powerball.  The latest release I received told of a group of Arizona co-workers who have the privilege of dividing $1.7 million into nine shares.

Many newspapers post the lottery results in their sports pages, so I suppose there is a tangential relationship between my job and the Lotto.

Or, at least I have an excuse for sharing a couple of lottery-related stories in this, the Bedford Bulletin's sports section.

Story Number One.  Back in my single days, I lived in Louisville.  One night, I took a lady friend on a trip to the Kentucky State Fair.  

I treated her to a fabulous night of elephant ears, corn dogs and trips on the tilt-a-whirl.  Daddy Big Bucks was I.

As we began to leave, my date noticed a Kentucky Lottery tent.  She sprung for ten dollars' worth of tickets.  She had five bucks worth of numbers printed on two separate tickets and handed one of the ducats to me.

We went back to her place for a nightcap.  The news was on and, sure enough, they announced that evening's lottery numbers.

With five sets of numbers, and each set containing six, I had a total of 30 numbers.  I quickly realized that I might have a total of two of the drawn numbers.  In other words, I held a handful of losers.

But, not being the type to let an opportunity for mischief pass, I brightened and said, "Oh, boy.  I think I've won!"

As she snatched the ticket from my grasp, my date said, "What do you mean YOU've won?"

That relationship had about as much chance of succeeding as did the numbers in my date's claw-like hand.

Story Number Two.  I had a friend (I'll call him Chris) who worked in a fancy office building in New York City.

The fellow in a neighboring cubicle had a routine.  Each day at luncheon time, the man would buy a single lottery ticket.  The numbers on that ticket were randomly selected by the computer at the deli.

Upon his return, the man would stick the ticket in his top left desk drawer.

The next morning, he'd open the drawer, remove the ticket and compare it with the results in the NY Post.

One day, Chris (his actual name) left for work early.  He looked up the previous evening's lottery numbers.  Then he bought a ticket with yesterday's winning numbers.

Arriving at the office ahead of his co-worker, Chris then substituted the ticket he'd brought that morning for the one purchased the day before by the lottery player.

The only fortunate thing about this story is that the man didn't quit his job when he (mistakenly) was led to believe he'd won the previous night's Lotto.

The other fortunate thing is that he didn't kill Chris.

So, those are my two tales of life in lottery's fast lane.

I don't suppose there are morals to these stories.  Sorry.

Speaking of morals, though, I do realize that there are folks who view lottery, since it is gambling, as a form of evil.

I, too, view the lottery as a sort of evil, though not on religious grounds.  My faith is fairly silent on the subject of gambling (other than, "Thou shalt not bet against Notre Dame").

The reason I don't like the lottery has to do with the odds.  Take the "Pick 3" games.  That is a daily game in which you pick three numbers between zero and nine.  

You pay a buck and the payout is $500.  Sounds good, right?  Well, when you note that there are 1,000 possible combinations, you see what a suckers' bet it is.  In the long run, you pay $1,000 and "make" $500.

You're smarter to stick a dollar bill in a mason jar once a day.  After three years, you'll have a cool grand, instead of half that amount you'd get from playing the lottery.

And, as in the case of my NY story, it'll save you from potential heart attacks or murder charges.