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This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.

Saturday, May 6, 2023

47 has a storied history as the Official Hyperbolic Number.

There is never a lot of traffic. There are always 47,000 cars on the road.

Things never take a long time. They take 47 weeks.

You’re never confused by multiple people talking at once. There are always 47 conversations happening at the same time.

This is a Kevinism that is largely useful when you have to explain the extend to which the universe has been uncooperative.

This morning, I got a text from Kevin. He had an encounter with the number 47, not just 47, but 474747.

The encounter is secondary to the fact that he uses the number 47 at least 47 times a day.

On the tail of that, my brother Eric said his friend had bowled a 247. Obviously this is just 2 doing a little name dropping, but 47 was the real thing.

We decided that as usual, the universe was stalking us. And what’s a person to do when encountering such synchronicity of numbers?

Play the lottery. Duh.

My grandmother was the lottery queen. She played the pick 6 every week and we’d sit glued to the TV on Saturday night with pencils and tickets in hand as the numbers rolled around and spewed out in some life changing fashion.

Sometimes she won a few dollars. Mostly she just said, “Nothing,” with a little frown and moved on.

Numbers stalked her, too. If one happened to repeat itself, or looked particularly interesting on a receipt, it became a lottery number.

Birthdays got played. Anniversaries and ages got played. If you dreamed a number it was a given that you went to grandma and told her so she could play it for you.

Sometimes it was a conundrum. If you dreamed 474747 for example, you couldn’t play that because the numbers don’t go that high. And you can’t play 47 multiple times, so now you have to try to decipher one of the greatest mysteries of the universe. Not 42, because we already know what that means, but how do you turn that dream into a winning ticket? You could play 4 and 7 and 47, and then 11 if you were feeling really smart, and then 3 and the birthday of the dreamer, and hope the universe would catch on.

It usually didn’t.

Today, with 47 suddenly everywhere, and by everywhere I mean in two different places, I picked up the torch and immediately decided to play the lottery.

My brother Stephen is a huge lottery guy. His passion is scratch tickets.

He loves scratch tickets so much that he’s kind of made a career out of them. He has a YouTube channel called $cratchNY where every week he livestreams a $500 book. He and a few friends chip in and split the winnings.

You might wonder who watches someone livestream scratching off tickets. The answer would be “a surprising lot of people.” He is not the only one who does this. Other people in other states have similar channels, but he is by far the most entertaining.

He has a special bonus ticket that he uses to share winnings with the first person to answer a trivia question correctly. I answered one correctly once but didn’t even get 47 cents.

He has a winnings meter that calculates how much they win, with a highlight at the “break even” point. It’s hard to tell sometimes if you’re crossing your fingers that he’ll hit it big, or just get back that $500.

Gotta be in it to win it, you know.

There is a lot of manifesting going on in that live chat, with shamrocks flying everywhere and a whole subculture of lottery-speak that I barely understand.

Stephen is like a math machine when it comes to scratch tickets. He knows which tickets pay out at which odds. He knows where on the book you have the most chance of winning, unless you don’t. And he can usually predict what he will win on a given ticket before he even scratches off the prize amount.

So when I decided to play the lottery, Kevin and I texted Steve.

The conversation went a little something like this:

Me: I’ll give you $47 to buy scratch tickets.

Kevin: Me too.

Stephen: Ok.

Steve did not ask why. Steve did not question the amount. He was just on that ticket like me on a loaf of bread.

We even got a few more people to chip in $47. Not $50 with $3 in change. But exactly $47. These things are important when you’re stacking the odds in your favor.

Steve went ticket shopping.

Not only did we want $47 worth of lottery tickets times however many people we were, but we absolutely needed at least one of them to be the 47th in the book.

Because when you’re manifesting luck, that’s how it works. I don’t think I have to explain everything, do I?

The law of probability will tell you that you are no more likely to win on your 47th ticket than on your first. That just because you lost a lot doesn’t mean you’re “due” for a win.

Clearly they are wrong. Because as anyone who has ever played the lottery knows, that is exactly how it works and you just have to find the right configuration. Duh.

Steve is a good sport so he didn’t just scratch tickets. He livestreamed it as an extra bonus show so we could all sit there and fling shamrocks around and give the evil eye to the whammies.

He began the show at 4:47:47.

Steve pulled out his snazzy scratch coin and started scratching.

He was right about one thing. When you buy a string of tickets at the end of a book you aren’t likely to win big.

We did win, however, even if we didn’t quite make “retire to a Greek island” money.

Do you want to take a guess which ticket won?

To this day, scratch tickets make an excellent go-to gift for someone when you’re feeling stuck. Not only do they have the potential of exponentially multiplying the value of said gift, but they provide a few minutes of entertainment value even if you lose. Sometimes it’s cheaper than a movie.

Dad always comes through with a scratching coin. He is the only person I know who can randomly pull a nickel out of his pocket. Sometimes a dime, or a quarter if he can find one. Never a penny, that’s just… come on. Did you not pay attention to anything I said about luck?

It’s a little bonus, too, because whether you win or lose you always get to keep the coin.

I don’t play the lottery often but today seemed like the right day. Regardless of the outcome it was fun, and it was a few minutes for my entire family to sit in front of YouTube like we used to sit in front of the TV decades ago, waiting for our fortune to strike. Even in the absence of a million bucks, we are rich in love. And even if we give each other 47,000 reasons to go crazy, I still consider myself very lucky that the universe bestowed them upon me.

Oh. Are you still here? Did you think I was going to tell you what ticket won? Sheesh, do I have to do ALL the work? Go watch the show!

Photo: a little peek at the action happening today.