In a small rural town in Upstate New York, Betty Cloonin, age 73, has been feeling pretty lucky.
Betty has been coming to the same grocery store for over 20 years to purchase her “lucky scratchers”. “I haven’t won yet, but I can feel it’s coming soon.”
Despite over two decades of losing, Betty wakes up each and every day with the same sense of foolish optimism. “You can’t win if you don’t play.” she remarked confidently.
Like many other Americans, Betty has a unique talent for ignoring basic statistics, always reassuring herself that today could be the big day.
However, unlike every other problem gambler, Betty has a “system”.
“I look at the colors of the tickets. The brightest ones never pay out. Go for the dark ones.”
Grocery store attendant Steve Sharpe has been ringing Betty out for over 6 years. “I keep telling her she’s wasting her money, but she seems really confident. Like overly confident. Almost as if she doesn’t remember she has been losing since 1996.” Sharpe said with bewildered concern.
All that math and common sense aside, Betty is as sure as ever that her big jackpot is just around the corner. “The top prize on this one is $5,000. I like to think what I could do with money like that.”
Although Sharpe has reminded Mrs. Cloonin several times that the $20 a day she spends adds up to over $7,300 a year, she seems uninterested with such “tomfoolery”.
We asked Betty how today’s tickets turned out.
“Today was a very, very good day. Out of my $20, I won $3 and a free quick pick ticket. Not too shabby. Not too shabby at all.”
As Betty confidently shuffled out of the store, once again forgetting to buy any groceries, you could see a twinkle in her eyes. A twinkle that Sharpe says he has seen before.
“See that. That’s what I mean. It’s like she already forgot she lost $17. She thinks she won today.”
While the rightfully concerned cashier fails to understand why Betty keeps playing, he knows one thing for sure: She’ll be back tomorrow.