The Fortune Cookie That Made 110 People Very Rich
Sometimes people get their inspiration to play the lottery from interesting places
You have to be in it to win it, but even the heartiest of believers in lotteries must admit that winning a big jackpot is a long shot. One notable exception was a fortune cookie company, who had the lucky numbers printed on their fortunes connected to one Powerball drawing producing numerous winners. Despite obvious suspicion that something fishy was afoot, it actually turned out to be on the up and up and one of the most bizarre and happiest coincidences in recent memory.
The March 30, 2005 Powerball drawing began in a relatively non-descript manner. The jackpot was a nice but not out of the ordinary $13.8 million. Out of the 29 states where the lottery was played, only one lucky person wound up claiming the winning ticket. However, authorities ultimately found there were a total of 110 people who had claims on second-place prizes. 89 won $100,000 and another 21 won $500,000 because they had paid an extra dollar for their ticket to include a Power Play multiplier option.
The winning numbers for that particular lottery were 22–28–32–33–39–42. The many second-place winners had nailed the first five numbers, but had picked 40 instead of 42 for the final selection. Since a drawing at that time had nearly one in three million odds of a second-place winner, and usually only saw four to five second-place winners per drawing, the bloated figure of 110 obviously stood out as an unnatural occurrence. The prior record for most second-place winners in a single drawing was back on August 25, 2001 when 91 people went home happy.
When investigators looked into how so many people picked five of the six numbers correctly, they discovered upon questioning claimants that a common denominator was people who had played numbers they had seen in a fortune cookie. These crunchy desserts traced back to Wonton Food Inc., a Queens, New York based company producing four million fortune cookies a day for a variety of different brands.
It was rapidly verified that no chicanery was in play with the company. The numbers were determined to have been an ordinary set, absent any manipulation or intent. It just so happened that enough…