homeaboutarchives + tagsshopmembership!
aboutarchivesshopmembership!
aboutarchivesmembers!

kottke.org posts about lottery

Hacking the lottery

posted by Tim Carmody   Mar 02, 2018

Jerry and Marge Selbee were a semi-retired couple in rural Michigan who ran a convenience store. Among their biggest sellers were lottery tickets. One day, Jerry realized that if you only played on certain “roll-down” days (when a four-out-of-six winner would get part of a five-out-of-six prize, and so on), the odds weren’t just better for players; they were positive. You just had to buy a lot of tickets.

Lottery terminals in convenience stores could print only 10 slips of paper at a time, with up to 10 lines of numbers on each slip (at $1 per line), which meant that if you wanted to bet $100,000 on Winfall, you had to stand at a machine for hours upon hours, waiting for the machine to print 10,000 tickets. Code in the purchase. Push the “Print” button. Wait at least a full minute for the 10 slips to emerge. Code in the next purchase. Hit “Print.” Wait again. Jerry and Marge knew all the convenience store owners in town, so no one gave them a hard time when they showed up in the morning to print tickets literally all day. If customers wondered why the unassuming couple had suddenly developed an obsession with gambling, they didn’t ask. Sometimes the tickets jammed, or the cartridges ran out of ink. “You just have to set there,” Jerry said.

The Selbees stacked their tickets in piles of $5,000, rubber-banded them into bundles and then, after a drawing, convened in their living room in front of the TV, sorting through tens or even hundreds of thousands of tickets, separating them into piles according to their value (zero correct numbers, two, three, four, five). Once they counted all the tickets, they counted them again, just to make sure they hadn’t missed anything. If Jerry had the remote, they’d watch golf or the History Channel, and if Marge had it, “House Hunters” on HGTV. “It looked extremely tedious and boring, but they didn’t view it that way,” recalled their daughter Dawn. “They trained their minds. Literally, they’d pick one up, look at it, put it down. Pick one up, put it down.” Dawn tried to help but couldn’t keep pace; for each ticket she completed, Jerry or Marge did 10.

Naturally, of course, the couple hits trouble when they shift their game to Massachusetts and bumps up against a group of MIT students who have the same idea. Hijinks ensue.

Interview with a lottery winner

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 21, 2009

On Reddit, an informal Q&A with a $30 million lottery winner about how the money has changed his life.

I went to the lottery’s website after finding the ticket and realized that I had won. I freaked out ran up to my apartment’s door and locked all the locks. It was completely irrational.

(via cyn-c)

Brad Duke won $85 million in the Powerball

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 01, 2007

Brad Duke won $85 million in the Powerball lottery in 2005. Here’s how he’s spent the money so far. (via cyn-c)

Lottery idea: instead of earmarking revenues for

posted by Jason Kottke   May 23, 2006

Lottery idea: instead of earmarking revenues for education, why not use the money for individual retirement accounts? The piece includes this startling fact: “Some 20 million Americans spend at least $1,000 a year on lottery tickets”. !!!!