Lotteries have been all over the news this week. An Ohio woman claimed she lost a lottery ticket worth $162 million when she dropped her purse. And after weeks of having no winner here in California, a player finally won $88 million this past weekend. Day after day, Californians had been standing in lines, nervously waiting to buy their tickets as the jackpot increased. And everyone who bought a ticket seemed to have a system. Either they had lucky numbers, lucky socks, or a lucky street they had to take to their lucky lottery seller. Those kinds of superstitions seemed so silly to me that I decided that I'm going to win the next California lottery. And I'm going to do it based on science and logic, not superstition.
I'm not superstitious. I'll walk under a ladder, black cats don't bother me, and if I say, "I haven't had a cold lately," I don't think I'm going to get sick tomorrow. But I do believe in luck and karma. If my team is winning while I'm watching a game on TV, and then my wife walks in and the other team scores, I know it's her fault. (In case you're not aware of this, she was responsible for Dr. J and the 76ers losing the NBA Championship to the Portland Trailblazers in 1977.) But as I said, I'm not superstitious. I'm merely aware that irrational forces often forge our destiny.
I've never bought a lottery ticket before. I didn't want to throw my money away on something that was less likely than being struck by lightning while running into a long-lost identical cousin. But then I decided to buy a ticket so I could prove that you can win if you just go about it in an intelligent manner.
I have some friends who just play the lottery when the jackpot gets "big enough." If it's "only," say, $10 million, they don't bother. If it's $30 or $40 million, they're in. I wasn't going to make that mistake. I would plunk down my dollar and be happy with however many millions I won. And I think gambling karma will reward me for my lack of greed.
Many lottery winners immediately quit their jobs, move to a mansion, and get a bunch of fancy friends. I don't plan on doing any of those things. Next week, I'll be here, writing about what it feels like to win the lottery. I might get a new shirt or two, but I'm going to give a generous portion of the money to noble causes. This humble attitude is another reason that I'm going to win.
I bought the ticket on Monday. I knew from watching the news that winners usually buy their tickets at small liquor stores in unfortunate neighborhoods. You aren't going to buy a winning lottery ticket in a Beverly Hills boutique frequented by people named Tiffany and Lance. Again, logic, not superstition.
So I got into my car to look for the ideal lottery vendor. After awhile, I found it. "Ed's Liquors" is directly across the street from an alcoholism recovery place called the "Sober Inn." What could be a more perfect location for buying a lottery ticket? There I was at the intersection of Temptation Boulevard and Strength of Spirit Avenue. Obviously, reason and science had sent me to the right place.
I gave the guy my dollar, and bought a ticket. I told him that when I won, I'd like my millions in a lump sum rather than installments, and he smiled and nodded his approval. When I looked at the ticket, I saw that one of the numbers was 17. My birthday number! Could this thing be going any smoother if it were rigged?
The ultimate reason I know I'm going to win is that I'm writing this column about it. Why would the forces that govern these things let me lose when winning would make a much better ending? It just wouldn't be logical.
Lloyd Garver has written for many television shows, ranging from "Sesame Street" to "Family Ties" to "Frasier." He has also read many books, some of them in hardcover.
By Lloyd Garver