You didn’t win the lottery


Nobody in the news business will admit to writing headlines ahead of time. But this one was easy.

It looks like a winning ticket was sold in Maryland, and perhaps elsewhere. But no Californian matched that magically fickle group of numbers, including a quirky “Mega” number — 23 — that matched another number in the five-number sequence.

As of the wee hours on Saturday morning, the rest of us with crappy, horrible numbers are still waiting for a person or group to come forward and claim responsibility for hitting the unprecedented $640 million jackpot.

Despite the astronomical probability of losing, dubious funding benefits, and regressive taxing effect on the poor, state-sponsored lotteries have continually sought the spotlight with mammoth jackpots and frenzied ticket-buying.

Next time you stand in line for that Mega Millions sure-fire winner, ask yourself why all lotteries work in the same way, picking the numbers after all the tickets have been purchased and the numbers tallied.

Imagine a lottery that very publicly and dramatically picked all six numbers — in advance. They would be put on display and shrouded from the public. Only three people of the utmost trust would be allowed to see them: The President, the Pope and maybe Steven Tyler.

After this public-yet-secret unveiling, the frenzied buying would be geared toward matching the numbers — which would then be publicly “revealed” instead of “drawn,” as it is now.

Do you think the outcome might be different?

Jesse Garnier
Jesse Garnier is the editor and founder of SFBay. A Mission District native, he also teaches journalism as associate professor at San Francisco State University.

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