Lucky, Lucky Winner

One of the best things about the Internets of late is that one can win unlimited riches through lotteries around the world without even entering. In just the last couple of days I’ve gotten emails informing me that:

  • “…You have been selected for a cash prize of £1,350,000 (One million, three hundred and fifty thousand, pounds sterling)held on the 26th of September 2007 in London Uk.” (Oddly, this one’s from the Irish lottery.)
  • “…You have been selected for a cash Price of 1,000,000.00 (One Million Pounds Sterling) in cash … from International programme held on the 27th of SEPTEMBER 2007 in the United Kindom. “
  • “…You have been selected for a cash prize of £1,000,000.00 (British Pounds) held on the 27th of September 2007 in London Uk.”
  • “…You have won our International Charity Awards of US $1,000,000.00 dollars during the past 2007 Global Internet Summit titled “Discovering Greatness”, held in the London, United Kingdom.”
  • “…Your mail account have been picked as a winner of a lump sum pay out of Eight hundred and ninty-one thousand,nine hundred and thirty-four Great Britain pounds£891,934.00 pounds sterlings) in cash.”
  • —“The Board of Directors of NETHERLAND LOTTERY PROMOTIONS announces to you as 1 of our 10th lucky winners of this month draw held on 27th of September 2007. … Your email address emerged alongside with 9 other as the first category winner.Consequently you have therefore been approved for a total pay out of 2,000, 000.00 (Two million Euro) only.”

So let’s see: Thanks to my having an email address — thanks, Yahoo! Mail — I’m 4,241,934 pounds, $1 million and 2 million euros richer today than I was yesterday (the only real headache in all this new wealth is figuring out how much it comes to in real money — the low, low U.S. dollar. Let’s see: According the the calculator at, those pounds are worth US$8,678,971.27. The euros are worth US$2,852,599.07. And the dollars are worth, well, less than when I started writing this. So my haul for today is $12,531,570.34. I’ll give those 34 cents to some panhandler. I’ll pay off my credit cards — finally! — with the rest.

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Playing the Numbers


We got Chinese food last night from a neighborhood joint. Scarfing my fortune cookie, I briefly looked at the message and the lottery number and thought about buying a ticket (I haven’t bought one in a while; buying one usually gives rise to full-on Walter Mitty reveries surrounding all the generous things I’ll do with the dough. Kind of a mind game to show the universe’s lottery-controlling powers that I’m worthy of a jackpot).

In any case, I haven’t gone out to buy a ticket. But this morning, there’s a great story in The New York Times today about a bunch of people who bought tickets in the Powerball lottery using their fortune-cookie numbers and won:

"Chuck Strutt, executive director of the Multi-State Lottery Association, which runs Powerball, said on Monday that the panic began at 11:30 p.m. March 30 when he got a call from a worried staff member.

"The second-place winners were due $100,000 to $500,000 each, depending on how much they had bet, so paying all 110 meant almost $19 million in unexpected payouts, Mr. Strutt said. (The lottery keeps a $25 million reserve for odd situations.)

" ‘We didn’t sleep a lot that night,’ Mr. Strutt said. ‘Is there someone trying to cheat the system?’ …

… Then the winners started arriving at lottery offices.

" ‘Our first winner came in and said it was a fortune cookie,’ said Rebecca Paul, chief executive of the Tennessee Lottery. ‘The second winner came in and said it was a fortune cookie. The third winner came in and said it was a fortune cookie.’ "