I've crossed over state borders all over the country no fewer than probably 10,000 times. Admittedly, most of the time it was because the alcohol purchasing laws in the state I resided in were considerably more restrictive than the neighboring state. (Thanks for that 8:00 PM closing time on liquor stores, Connecticut. Could you be any lamer?) Anyway, most of the time you'd never know that you just entered another state if there weren't a sign there welcoming you to your new temporary home away from home. (You know like "Welcome to Wisconsin - Birthplace of Jeffrey Dahmer".) I say most of the time you'd never know when you cross state lines because the fact is when you cross the border from Alabama into Tennessee, you know immediately. How do you know? Well, apparently the lottery is like a really big deal in Tennessee because as soon as you cross over into Tennessee there are facilities about ten feet past the state line whose sole purpose is to sell lottery tickets. LOTS of them. Not gas stations that happen to sell lottery tickets (oh sure, there are some of those in Tennessee as well), but buildings where all you do is buy lottery tickets. Who'd have thunk it?
And not just lottery tickets, but pretty much any game of chance involving numbers on paper. Power Ball, Pick 4, every scratch off imaginable in those dispensers where you can roll them out like toiletpaper and the cashier can pull off like 50 off them. I'm pretty sure there may have been guys in the corner rolling dice, and three overweight ladies betting on ants crawling toward the wall. Either that or they were just hungover.
Sidebar - I love the marketing geniuses behind the scratch offs. Ultimately, those games are all the same. You're using the side of a coin to scratch silver paint off of a piece of paper to see if you happen to score a victory in a game where the odds of winning five bucks on a one dollar card is about 1 in 100. But for some reason, when those silver spots are carrots next to a cartoon of a rabbit, it becomes "fun" to play. It's pure genius. I honestly think that if people served their spouse divorce papers with silver scratch offs on it, it would "fun" up the divorce process and make the two soon to be ex spouses much more cordial to each other. "Let's see what is under this silver spot ... scratch, scratch, scratch ... WHOA! SOLE CUSTODY!!! YYYYEESSS!!!!" (Cue "Price is Right" showcase winner music!)
Anyway, back to the LottoDome. Check out this room. It's a bunch of tables where people sit down and map out their lottery strategy, like Belichik preparing for the Super Bowl, as if somehow they can gameplan and control the way the ping pong balls will come out of those little tubes. I looked on the back of one of the entry tickets for Power Ball and the odds of winning it are roughly 1 in 146,000,000. (So naturally the estimated jackpot is $20,000,000, or about 1/7th of 146 million.) I thought those odds seemed pretty steep, but then I considered that half of the homes I'd seen within 15 miles of the Lottery Oasis had more cars on blocks in the front yard than they had in the driveway. I mean, unless the demand for rusted out cars with no wheels skyrockets in the next few months, the odds of these folks making more than 20 THOUSAND dollars next year are far greater than 1 in 146,000,000 so I can see why they'd scrape together all of their nickels and dimes and take a crack at the Power Ball for 1,000 times the payout. It's solid business sense really.
So you have a room full of people cashing in their welfare checks to play lottery games that are decidedly skewed toward the state .... naturally, I had to particpate. You know what they say ... when in Tennessee, do as those below the poverty line do! So I went ahead and bought two Power Ball tickets (drawing on Wednesday night, July 9th!!) Here's what I went with.
5 - daughter's soccer jersey number
12 - brother's football number at Notre Dame
20 - 1560 birth date is Aug 20th
22 - my birthday and my twins' birthday is Jan 22nd
34 - number of Charles Barkley, my favorite athlete
POWER BALL - 29 - mom's birthday was Dec 29th
TICKET 2 (I call this one the Houston special):
5 - Bagwell
7 - Biggio
17 - Puma
22 - Clyde
45 - Rudy T
POWER BALL - 34 - can you really go with any other number for the Power Ball on a Houston Special??
If I win, I promise to rent out the Toyota Center and pay Rich Lord whatever it takes to have him agree to sing Barbara Streisand's greatest hits in the round while we all throw urine balloons at him. I mean that. Wish me luck!