Finally, A Scratch Off Winner

By Paul DiSclafani

I finally won real cash on a scratch-off game.
After reading about people winning millions on scratch-off games, I wrote a column about Juan Hernandez of Uniondale, who won $10 million on a scratch-off, not just once, but twice!
I’ve cashed about as many one- and two-dollar winners as I have lost or misplaced. I once had a $25 winner, which I promptly blew on some cigars. Scratch-off tickets I’ve stuffed into cards for friends and families have turned into $50 winners occasionally, but never for me.
My wife stuffs scratch-offs into all our stockings for Christmas. In addition to Cinnamon rolls, there is enough silver dust in my kitchen from scratching off lottery tickets to declare my house an environmental hazard. Everyone wins something except me.
Well, my turn finally came.
While out to lunch with my friends recently to celebrate my retirement, I received a beautiful card from my friend Matty and his wife, Sigrid. Later, when I opened it at home, I found a heartfelt message and three scratch-off lottery tickets. The tickets followed the usual pattern of requiring a match with a few “winning” numbers. I reached into my handy change jar for a nickel and started scratching.
The first one required me to reveal three of the same numbers to win the prize. As usual, there were a few doubles but no triples, so it was a loser. I believe they purposely give you two matching numbers that say “Jackpot!” to drive you insane.
I quickly lost my enthusiasm on the second card, which required matching any “winning” numbers. As expected, I missed the “target” numbers by one in either direction. If the target number was 15, I conveniently uncovered a 14 and a 16, but no 15. However, on the last reveal, I found a match for ten bucks! Now we’re talking! That’ll get me a bagel and a cup of coffee.
The third card, “Find The 7s,” was not complicated as it contained no “winning” numbers to match. You just had to scratch off all spots and uncover the #7. There were three columns of five hidden numbers to scratch. The more sevens you uncovered, the more money you won, from two bucks to $25,000.
The first three numbers I uncovered (going down the first column) were all 7s. I kept scratching, and the next two were also 7s, giving me an entire column of 7s and a prize of five bucks.
I stopped to re-read the ticket instructions to make sure I hadn’t misread about the 7s. I expected to find out that you wanted to avoid 7s, not collect them. Sure enough, the prizes were based on collecting 7s, and I already had five of them.
Knowing my previous luck in these scratch-off games, the next row started just as I expected, with no 7s in the first two numbers scratched. But then I finished the column with three more 7s, and my prize money was up to $20 with five more numbers to reveal.
When the first number in the last row revealed another 7, I had won $50. At that point, I stopped again to take a much closer look at the card to ensure it was real. I’ve seen plenty of those videos where kids give their unsuspecting parents (or friends) a fake scratch-off lottery ticket, winning millions of dollars. And considering how long I’ve known my friend, Matty, it was not out of the realm of possibility.
But it looked legit to me, so I continued scratching. The next number was a 5 (rats), but lo and behold, it was followed by another 7! Ten 7s brought my winnings to $100, with two numbers left. One more 7, and the prize jumps to $500. Two more get me to $2,500.
Alas, I shouldn’t have gotten my hopes up. But then again, I can’t complain. I’ll take it!
Unfortunately, at our next get-together, I have to buy all the drinks…

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