Lotto Fever. Dec. 17, 2013.

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The last time I bought a lottery ticket this year was in April, but when I was driving in East San Jose yesterday afternoon and heard that the Mega Millions jackpot was up over $600 million, I decided it was time to buy in. Not because I thought I had any chance of winning, but because a jackpot like this is a social event that takes on a life of its own. The whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts, and I wanted to do my part.

A dollar won’t even buy you a donut in most strip malls anymore. So if that same buck can get you a pull on the one-armed bandit that will give somebody somewhere a $600 million payout (actually less than half that in a lump sum payout), why not?

There was no chance to pull off the road until I got out of East San Jose and into South San Jose and completed my last stop of the day. The sun was setting as I slid into a diagonal parking space in a strip mall alongside Interstate 85 that had a Safeway and an official lottery retailer.

It turned out to be a very dramatic sunset, which was nice because 2013 hasn’t been a great year for sunsets so far.

Red tail lights waiting to get on the 85.
Red tail lights waiting to get on the 85.

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I was not really surprised to learn that one of the two winning tickets for the Mega Million jackpot was sold in a strip mall in East San Jose. It’s one of the few good towns left for working class optimists.

I still haven’t checked my numbers, and I doubt I will. Having been in East San Jose hours before the lucky numbers were picked there is as close to winning the thing as I’ll ever come.

What I did manage to accomplish in East San Jose that afternoon was getting my first up-close gander at a biodiesel pump in a mainstream gas station.


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