The four most populous US states – California, Texas, Florida, and New York – sell the most lottery tickets, and little old Massachusetts sells the fifth. This year, the Commonwealth will raise more than half a billion dollars from games of chance which include Keno, Mega Millions and Numbers Game.
At Christmas, those alluring scratch tickets that sparkle behind most store counters make terrific stocking stuffers. Last year my cousin’s wife gave him a Christmas tree made up of $ 100 of $ 1, $ 2 and $ 5 bills. “I won $ 28,” he said.
This looks about right, given that the odds of winning $ 10,000 on a dollar bill are one million to one, but drop to 100,000 to 1 on a $ 30 bill. Whoops.
My gripe with the lottery has always been that it counts breakeven tickets as winners. Buy a $ 10 ticket, match a number and congratulations, you just risked an 8 to 1 chance to get your money back. Talk about cheap thrills, now it’s a waste of time.
At the bottom of the Mass. Lottery is located at an 800 number. I dialed all 10 digits and an automated voice thanked me for calling the Massachusetts hotline. “One of our trained online support specialists will be with you soon. Our specialists are there to answer your questions.
Questions? Like how far away is the French King Bridge?
I waited while listening to some flute music and imagined a little sap in Woburn deciding whether to buy a Christmas present for his child or spend his last dollars on a Willie gold bill. Wonka. “Your waiting time is estimated at less than five minutes. We are glad you called and hope to have the pleasure of speaking to you soon. Thank you for your patience.”
A few minutes later someone came in line and said, “Kathy is talking. ”
“Hi Kathy. Let’s say I won $ 1,000. Where should I cash it? ”
“Are you going to collect taxes or give me a form?” ”
“We’ll do both, we’ll take five percent, which is $ 50, and we’ll give you a W-2 form for your federal taxes.” ”
“How much do I have to pay the feds?” ”
“Depends on your annual income. ”
“Let’s say $ 75,000. ”
“I don’t know. I’m not an accountant and I don’t play.
She gave me the number of Cindy Lopez, a project manager at a nonprofit consulting firm in Boston called Health Resources in Action. Again, the call was answered by a robot voice. “Cindy Lopez is currently unavailable. Please leave a message.”
An hour later, Ms. Lopez recalled my call. She said health resources are funded by the Ministry of Public Health. “How many calls do you receive? ” I asked.
“Ummmm… okay… okay… we’re coming down to about… let me confirm for you about… uh 100 calls a month or so… in October there were 95 and in November there were 100.”
“It’s not a lot. Why did the helpline take so long to answer my call?”
“We also get about a thousand calls for substance use,” she said.
“How can you help a problem player? ”
“You will have the opportunity to talk to someone about your level of risk and the resources that are available to you. ”
“What is a screening specialist? What are their qualifications to help a gambling addict? ”
“Hmmm, I think I need to talk to my manager. ”
“No, it’s okay. Thank you for your time.”
I rarely buy scratch tickets. The sight of zombie people in their cars is aversion therapy. But it’s the season, and last week I used the change of a five to buy three $ 1 tickets. At home, I scratched a winner – yes, I am a winner, as the Bobby Bare song says. “Hooray!” I thought. “Gas money.”
I won a dollar. Give me a quarter gallon of regular.
Rain the TV commercial, but chances are you won’t need the umbrella.
James Madison University will move to FBS next fall and be a member of the Sun Belt Conference which includes Coastal Carolina and App. State. Last night, the Dukes faced North Dakota State in the FCS semifinals and a win would put them in the national championship game for the fourth time in seven years.
JMU was the last team played by UMass before leaving for FBS. The Minutemen lost 34-17, before 7103 at McGuirk Alumni Stadium. Coach Kevin Morris was fired shortly after, but it is now rumored that he is returning to UMass. Morris was Don Brown’s assistant coach at Northeastern and UMass from 2000-2008.
The treasure trove of lore in Ken Burns’ nine-part documentary “Baseball” includes an anecdote from the 1920s when Ty Cobb walked into a Greeneville, SC liquor store owned by Shoeless Joe Jackson. A career .356 hitter, Jackson was banned from baseball for his role in setting the 1919 World Series.
Cobb walked into the store with famous sports reporter Grantland Rice, who thought it would be a good story. Jackson didn’t say a word as he called the Cobb purchase. “Don’t you know me, Joe?” Cobb asked.
“Of course I know you, Ty, but I wasn’t sure you wanted to know me.” Many of them don’t.
SQUIBBERS: WFAN famous crook and prodigal son Greg Carton offers a cocktail mix that helps prevent hangovers called Booze Dust. … Bleacher seats reserved to watch Pittsburgh play against Boston at JetBlue Park on March 8 cost $ 132 each in the aftermarket. … Muhammad Ali’s 21-year-old grandson Nico Ali Walsh won a majority decision on Saturday over Reyes Sanchez at Madison Square Garden. A rookie middleweight, Ali Walsh is 3-0 in the pro ranks. … Former lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko edged Richard Commey in the 12-round main event. Both fighters earned around $ 700,000 according to SportsZion. … The UMass basketball team slips towards .500. Two years ago, the Minutemen started 6-0 and have lost six straight games. Tomorrow, they will host Fairfield at 1 pm… UMass hockey will welcome the unfortunate LIU (4-10-3) in two months. Do you think Derek Kellogg will drop the first ceremonial puck? … Mike Vacarro of the NY Post tallied the 75 best New York Knicks of all time and ranked Clyde “The Glide” Frazier No.2 and Patrick Ewing No.1. Ewing left Jamaica for Boston at the age of 12 years and played in Cambridge Rindge and Latin. … UMass football coach Don Brown landed a Worcester eye chart named Zukudo Igwenagu. A transfer from Rutgers, Igwenagu is a 6-3, 212-pound outside linebacker. … Adam Wodon of College Hockey News was asked, “How bad do the Badgers have to feel before the high cost of Tony Granato buyout is worth it? Bad enough, Wodon replied. The Badgers are 5-12-1, but Grantao has signed until 2026 at $ 617,000 a year according to madison.com. … Former Minutemen Trey Mitchell and Ronnie DeGray III have adapted to their new teams. Mitchell is the second-leading scorer (104 points) for the Texas Longhorns 7-2 and DeGray is the fourth-leading scorer at 5-5 Mizzou (87 points). … Did you hear the story of the woman who rushed into the house shouting, “Honey, pack your bags, I just won the lottery! ”
“Where are we going?” he cried, “the mountains or the beach?”
“Whatever, go! “