PRATIE PLACE

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Fortune cookies

From this morning's New York Times:

Powerball lottery officials suspected fraud: how could 110 players in the March 30 drawing get five of the six numbers right?

But from state after state they kept coming in, the one-in-three-million combination of 22, 28, 32, 33, 39.

It took some time before they had their answer: the players got their numbers inside fortune cookies, and all the cookies came from the same factory in Long Island City, Queens.

The second-place winners were due $100,000 to $500,000 each, depending on how much they had bet, so paying all 110 meant almost $19 million in unexpected payouts, Mr. Strutt said. Of course, it could have been worse. The 110 had picked the wrong sixth number - 40, not 42 - and would have been first-place winners if they did.

"That's ours," said Derrick Wong, of Wonton Food, when shown a picture of a winner's cookie slip. "That's very nice, 110 people won the lottery from the numbers."

The same number combinations go out in thousands of cookies a day.

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