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Saturday, April 05, 2014

Luck Of The Draw

This is going to be a blog post that is going to be based on a foundation of luck.  And in this world, some of us are luckier than others.

Some of us are luckier in love than others.  Some of us are luckier in the world of business than other.  Some of us are even lucky enough to have been able to buy the real Lucky Charms cereal, and not the cheap imitation brand put out by the discount supermarket.

But when it comes to games, how lucky are you?

Well, I'd have to say that in my experience, I've been hit and miss.  Sometimes I get extremely lucky, and sometimes I don't.  Looking back through the years, I have had some extremely good luck.

When I was seven or eight years old, I attended a summer family picnic at the beach and there was an organized bingo game for all of the people who were in attendance.  And, well, let's just say that I was the only one in the whole group who won two games!  The prizes weren't a whole lot...just ten dollars or so.  But keep in mind that for a seven or eight year old boy, ten bucks just may as well have been a million!

I also seemed to do very well at contest draws.  I won a gift pack from a new restaurant that opened up in town at the time called O'Toole's (which closed up shop years ago), and I think it was a really big prize too...worth something like fifty bucks.  I also remember winning a toboggan, a skateboard, and a basketball just for doing something ridiculously simple such as collecting every player card of the local hockey team, or inserting a ballot in the ballot box.  And, I think there was even one moment in which I was given a scratch off ticket in a birthday card and ended up winning something like twenty dollars.  But, since I was too young to technically cash in the ticket (you have to be 18 in Canada to legally play the lottery, I think), I had to get my parents to cash it in for me.

I even won our workplace "Survivor" pool one year, which amounted to extra cash in my pocket for the Christmas holidays. 

But then again, there are times in which I am not lucky at all.  I haven't won any contests lately, and since I won the "Survivor" pool, I have not even made the jury phase on any subsequent seasons.  Oh well.  You win some, you lose some.

So just based on this admission alone, you might think that I love to get involved in all sorts of activities and games that are mostly luck-based.  You may even get the impression that I love gambling and am plotting a trip to Las Vegas or Atlantic City as I type this out right now.

Well, you'd actually be wrong.  I don't have any desire to go out and buy eighteen gazillion Powerball tickets at all - which is probably a good thing, since Powerball doesn't exist in Canada.  I may buy one and only one lottery ticket when the jackpot gets quite high (like say, maybe over thirty million dollars), but I won't go too crazy. 

The way I see it, I grew up in a situation in which money was really hard to hold on to.  That's probably why I don't really like using my disposable income on little scraps of paper with numbers on them hoping that I would finally get the scrap of paper that would shower me with riches.  At least, not unless they were enough riches that I could afford to help my family out and still have lots left for myself. 

Pursuing the ultimate dream for just three bucks a week.  Or, at least in my case, three bucks a year.  Seriously, that's about how frequently I buy lottery tickets nowadays.

So, here's the ironic thing about this.  When I was younger - and when I say younger, I mean too young to legally win on a lottery ticket - I was practically obsessed with all things that had to do with the lottery.

But just how obsessed was I?  Have a look at this.

Would you believe that the photo up above has remained in the family photo album for almost THIRTY YEARS?!?  Somehow, I look back on this photo and laugh because while most kids were writing fan letters to celebrities and singing stars, I was writing fan letters to lottery mascots.  What a strange child I was.

(I should also note that the photo also came with a set of fridge magnets, but all of those disintegrated over time.)

So, I suppose that since I posted this photo, I may as well explain who these mascots are and what games they represent.

The gigantic bird on the left is Lottario's "Early Bird" mascot.  And, the reason why he is called the Early Bird is because there's a section of the lottery game known as "Lottario" (one of Ontario's many lottery games).  The game of Lottario works like this.  You have to select six numbers from a pool of 45.  Each ticket costs one dollar.  If you match all six numbers exactly as they are shown, you can win a quarter of a million dollar prize.  Even better, if you purchase your ticket before a specific time, you can qualify for the "Early Bird" draw, where if your numbers match the four numbers drawn specifically for the Early Bird draw, you can win up to $50,000.  The only reason I know this game so well is because Lottario happens to be my mom's game of choice...even though the most she's ever won was a free ticket with the optional "Encore" game.  Still, she likes to try every once in a while.

Now, the guy on the right of the photo is Winnie the Wintario Bear, and I have to say that of all of the childhood lottery memories I have, "Wintario" is probably the one I enjoyed the most.  Sadly, Wintario was cancelled sometime in the early 1990s, but for fifteen years, Wintario was unique in that they printed off lottery tickets and hosted a half hour long show every Thursday night on Global Television where they would film in a different city in Ontario each week.  The tickets all had six digit numbers on them, and they would do draws for 3, 4, 5, and all 6 number matches.  The three dollar draw was worth $10, the four was worth $100, and so on and so forth.  

Perhaps the best part of the whole show was the fact that the hosts (Faye Dance and Greg Beresford) would do incredible audience participation during the course of the show.  Would you like to know what I mean?  Well, take a look at this episode that was originally broadcast on July 9, 1987 from Niagara Falls, Ontario.

You see...every episode, Greg would be in the audience interviewing people and those people would press the magic button that would start and stop the lottery machines.  And, I swore to myself as a child that I would not rest until I got a chance to push that button.

So when the word got out that Wintario was set to film an episode in my hometown, I was absolutely excited and begged my mom to go.

(Yeah...most kids my age wanted to go see a baseball game or a rock concert.  Me, I just wanted to push a silly button for a lottery show.  Again, I was a strange child.)

Sadly, I never did get to press the button.  We arrived just before the show taped at our local arts centre, and we were stuck in the back of the row, where Greg nor Faye could see us.  But it wasn't completely disasterous.  I did get to see a taping of Wintario.  I think I might have actually appeared on camera.  And, my ticket did win ten dollars!  But again, my mom had to cash it in for me...which made no sense to me.  I was old enough to watch a lottery show, and old enough to hold a ticket, but not old enough to cash the winning ticket. 

Ontario's a strange province sometimes.

Of course, these days, the main lottery game that most people around here play is Lotto 6/49.  The game play is almost exactly similar to that of Lottario, only there are 49 numbers to pick from - making your odds of winning the big jackpot even greater.

Now, I will say one thing.  This is the lottery game that I occasionally play once in a blue moon.  I even have my own set of personal numbers that I choose every single time.  And, while I won't reveal the numbers themselves, I will offer you the reasons why I chose the numbers.  Maybe you can figure them out if you're really savvy. 

NUMBER #1 - The month of my birth
NUMBER #2 - The house number of the house I lived in the longest during childhood
NUMBER #3 - The day of my birth
NUMBER #4 - The number of the very first comic book I ever read
NUMBER #5 - The number of the locker I had my senior year of high school
NUMBER #6 - The year in which Archie Comics released it's very first book

(And yes, all my numbers are in numerical order.  And no, there is no prize for guessing all six numbers correctly.  Not that it matters.  Those numbers have never won.  The closest they ever came to winning was way back in October 2003, in which four out of the six came up!)

But's much better choosing the same numbers over and over rather than relying on the hands of fate and the cashier who activates the "Quick Pick" feature.

So, those are my lottery memories from childhood.  Funny how something you were obsessed with as a child barely registers into adulthood, huh?

1 comment:

  1. it was great reading your blog. I was also a huge wintario fan when I was a kid. winnie the wintario bear was not only the mascot for wintario but he became more of a mascot for all of Ontario's lotteries. Steve Lawrence the son of lottario s Bill Lawrence donned the bear suit. Not only was he in parades and traveled with the Ontario Lottery information display that visited shopping malls... he appeared several times on the wintario draw. If you look up Brampton Ontario on YouTube you'll see an hour long draw show in which winning steals the show. I am good friends with many who worked on wintario, including Valerie who winnie sweeps off her feet at the end of that brampton show.