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'Lucky': a look at the lives of lottery winners, on HBO

After the Big WinAfter the Big Win: 'Lucky': a look at the lives of lottery winners, on HBO

Airs tonight at 9 p.m. ET

If it happens to you — and the odds are a mere 1 in 195 million that it will — what then?

"Do you become what you dreamed you would?" asks Mike Pace, known to millions of lottery ticket buyers as the man in the tuxedo who was the longtime announcer of the Powerball drawing. "Or do you become what you most deeply, secretly are?"

Director Jeffrey Blitz's enticing new documentary, "Lucky," which airs Monday night on HBO, tries to figure that out. Blitz interviews several people who found themselves irrevocably transformed by big lottery wins. Some were smart about the money and some weren't (one squandered it all), but all in some way long for — even mourn — the people they used to be. They've become alien life forms.

Despite its 90-minute length, "Lucky" never fully penetrates the world these winners live in, but it does tell us something about what it feels like. Although it is frank in portraying the darker side of the dream, it may also please lottery proponents. "Lucky" respects the entertainment value and very American history of lotteries, even among addicts such as Verna (the film is not fond of last names), a working mother in Delaware who throws $70 to $100 a day at fate, basing her lottery numbers on superstitious metrics and other magical thinking. "Lucky" understands that Verna is buying a fantasy in increments, thus there's nary a word about what some call a tax on the poor.

Big winners such as Quang Dao — who had nothing when he and his family escaped Vietnam by boat in the 1970s — can't help but transmit that very particular brand of capitalistic patriotism and glee that comes with catching the brass ring.

Quang, who with seven coworkers at a meatpacking plant in Lincoln, Neb., shared in the largest Powerball jackpot in history ($365 million in 2006), proudly shows off the quartet of McMansions he's building on the suburban prairie — a fenced compound where his children and grandchildren can surround him. Quang and his wife have a picture of their refugee boat etched into their custom-made fireplace hearth, and it's not very long before one or the other weeps at the profound literal and metaphorical journey from there to here. Their luck is almost frightening to consider; the Daos alone would have made a fine documentary.

But "Lucky" is crammed with other examples, which turns it into more of a survey and less of a portrait or a statement. Blitz's credits include a 2002 documentary about the National Spelling Bee ("Spellbound") that became a box-office hit; that film better explored its characters' personalities and emotions. It also had an easier narrative arc (a competition) to focus on.

But it is to Blitz's credit that he is able to get to his subjects at all, as scrupulous privacy is usually the first refuge for lottery winners, who are swamped with pleas from strangers. Though the breadth and diversity of the winners are fascinating, the movie drags as it tries to go beneath their prepared stories.

The most happy/melancholy story here is that of Kristine and Steven White, a New Jersey couple who won $110 million in 2004 from a Pennsylvania lottery ticket, who still live in the same house; their teenage son still works at his beloved fast-food job. Despite the Whites' humility and generosity (they love meeting with families of sick children to whom they offer financial aid), a neighboring couple tells Blitz how the Whites have changed and how awkward it feels to be around them.

The film reveals a common, woeful quality among these baffled multi-millionaires. When Blitz catches up to the Whites a year later, they've moved to a private compound in Florida, where Steve keeps a sportscar collection in a Garage Mahal next to their enormous house. Though the Whites put on smiles for the camera and exude what may indeed be true comfort, there's something unenviable, too.

They're lonely. They had to go where nobody knew where the money came from. But, as Kristine says: "I can't help it that it [happened to] me."

http://media.lpimg.com/2010071901.mp4

Washington Post, HBO, Lottery Post Staff

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26 comments. Last comment 4 years ago by drhymes74.
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beaudad's avatar - animaniacs26
Kentucky
United States
Member #60043
April 3, 2008
1388 Posts
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Posted: July 19, 2010, 10:34 am - IP Logged

I hope they show the way that they won their money........was it a scratch-off......was it numbers they picked on their own.....was it a quick pick.....how many numbers do they buy at a time......they might even show what numbers they played.....something that might help us get an "edge" on the winning.....if it is a quick pick...I wonder if the time of day they bought their ticket would help in future purchases!   It may be lonely at the top........but at least they eat better........lol........

" I don't have a gambling problem,  I have a problem winning!"

    RJOh's avatar - chipmunk
    mid-Ohio
    United States
    Member #9
    March 24, 2001
    18101 Posts
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    Posted: July 19, 2010, 10:50 am - IP Logged

    I hope they show the way that they won their money........was it a scratch-off......was it numbers they picked on their own.....was it a quick pick.....how many numbers do they buy at a time......they might even show what numbers they played.....something that might help us get an "edge" on the winning.....if it is a quick pick...I wonder if the time of day they bought their ticket would help in future purchases!   It may be lonely at the top........but at least they eat better........lol........

    You obviously think there's a secret to winning that most of these players had in common. I think this show will show winners are as random as the games results and the only commonality among them is they all bought winning tickets.

    Like any other part of life, stuff happens and people act uniquely base on their unique circumstances.

    * you don't need more tickets, just the right ticket * 
    * your best chance at winning a lottery jackpot is to buy a ticket * 
         Wink 


      United States
      Member #68713
      December 28, 2008
      301 Posts
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      Posted: July 19, 2010, 1:42 pm - IP Logged

      DisapproveI must say it's a lonely world out there when you  get sizable amount  of money or get rich. Even if you don't change the people around you will, most time with envy or a money issues.Crying

        ThatScaryChick's avatar - 61A4sr9 jpg?1
        Idaho
        United States
        Member #56506
        November 21, 2007
        4756 Posts
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        Posted: July 19, 2010, 2:47 pm - IP Logged

        I am looking forward to watching this. Yes Nod

        "No one remembers the person who almost climbed the mountain, only the person who eventually gets to the top."

          Avatar
          New Jersey
          United States
          Member #77101
          July 13, 2009
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          Posted: July 19, 2010, 3:08 pm - IP Logged

           I have Comcast On Demand and it's already available.  I'm gonna watch it right now!Thumbs Up

            Avatar
            California
            United States
            Member #80929
            October 7, 2009
            93 Posts
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            Posted: July 19, 2010, 3:54 pm - IP Logged

            DisapproveI must say it's a lonely world out there when you  get sizable amount  of money or get rich. Even if you don't change the people around you will, most time with envy or a money issues.Crying

            Being poor doesn't necessarily mean you're not lonely. In fact, a lottery winner has better chances of meeting people than someone poor. All a lotto winner need do is simply collect his winnings through an attorney anonymously, move, and then he can meet new people without fear of being harassed.

            I've already seen shows on lotto winners; I'm not sure I'll see this one.  I don't get premium cable.  I'd have to wait until it arrives on DVD.  From the review, I don't see anything groundbreaking here.

              Avatar

              United States
              Member #94361
              July 18, 2010
              226 Posts
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              Posted: July 19, 2010, 5:47 pm - IP Logged

              I've always been an odd ball, so it won't bother me one bit!  Everyone I know with money has people asking for it, one just has to move on to another socio-economic level. Big Smile

                bashley572's avatar - starwars14
                West Side of Sunny Florida
                United States
                Member #55048
                September 8, 2007
                3371 Posts
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                Posted: July 19, 2010, 6:17 pm - IP Logged

                Being poor doesn't necessarily mean you're not lonely. In fact, a lottery winner has better chances of meeting people than someone poor. All a lotto winner need do is simply collect his winnings through an attorney anonymously, move, and then he can meet new people without fear of being harassed.

                I've already seen shows on lotto winners; I'm not sure I'll see this one.  I don't get premium cable.  I'd have to wait until it arrives on DVD.  From the review, I don't see anything groundbreaking here.

                I agree, nothing new.  Just 'Lottey Changed my Life' but the HBO version.  Which just means you pay more for it!!

                Money won is twice as good as money earned!

                  dopey7719's avatar - Lottery-049.jpg
                  Midlands, SC
                  United States
                  Member #69698
                  January 14, 2009
                  303 Posts
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                  Posted: July 19, 2010, 9:46 pm - IP Logged

                  I don't have HBO, but if I did, I would watch it.  It's sad that some would have to move away...but heck, I'm willing to do it for peace of mind!

                  At least one thing's for certain...you find out who your friends truly are one way or another....either when you're down on your luck or on top of the world.

                    dallascowboyfan's avatar - tiana the-princess-and-the-frog.jpg
                    Oklahoma
                    United States
                    Member #82391
                    November 12, 2009
                    5518 Posts
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                    Posted: July 19, 2010, 10:08 pm - IP Logged

                    I Agree! Cal-LottoPlayer

                      Todd's avatar - Cylon 2.gif
                      Chief Bottle Washer
                      New Jersey
                      United States
                      Member #1
                      May 31, 2000
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                      Posted: July 19, 2010, 10:36 pm - IP Logged

                      It was a good documentary.  They all love to focus on the negative, but fortunately there were some great positive stories too.  The Viet Nam refugee story was heart-warming.

                       

                      Check the State Lottery Report Card
                      What grade did your lottery earn?

                       

                      Sign the Petition for True Lottery Drawings
                      Help eliminate computerized drawings!

                        Set4life's avatar - 2554
                        East Hampton, NY
                        United States
                        Member #41995
                        June 25, 2006
                        1136 Posts
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                        Posted: July 19, 2010, 10:38 pm - IP Logged

                        It was a good documentary.  They all love to focus on the negative, but fortunately there were some great positive stories too.  The Viet Nam refugee story was heart-warming.

                        Im viet myself and i have to give props to that guy!!! Cool

                             $Group Hug$

                             FOR THE WIN!

                          Halle99's avatar - Lottery-043.jpg
                          United States
                          United States
                          Member #68252
                          December 16, 2008
                          168 Posts
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                          Posted: July 20, 2010, 3:56 am - IP Logged

                          I hope they show the way that they won their money........was it a scratch-off......was it numbers they picked on their own.....was it a quick pick.....how many numbers do they buy at a time......they might even show what numbers they played.....something that might help us get an "edge" on the winning.....if it is a quick pick...I wonder if the time of day they bought their ticket would help in future purchases!   It may be lonely at the top........but at least they eat better........lol........

                          Lovely show......Well according to the show 70% lottery winners have won using QP...........Heartwarming........I felt sooo bad for "Buddy"

                           

                          Got all my luck charms, faith and God on my side......receiving the big one soon.

                          "Wait eagerly for the Lord, and keep to the way; God wil raise you to possess the land; you will gloat when the wicked are cut off".

                                                                                                        Psalms 37:34

                            Todd's avatar - Cylon 2.gif
                            Chief Bottle Washer
                            New Jersey
                            United States
                            Member #1
                            May 31, 2000
                            21652 Posts
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                            Posted: July 20, 2010, 8:12 am - IP Logged

                            Lovely show......Well according to the show 70% lottery winners have won using QP...........Heartwarming........I felt sooo bad for "Buddy"

                             

                            Got all my luck charms, faith and God on my side......receiving the big one soon.

                            They said that 70% of lottery tickets are played with Quick Picks, not that 70% won using quick picks.  Although I understand that the percentage won using quick picks is around 70%, I didn't see them mention that on the show.  I'm not sure why, I was expecting to see it right after they gave the percentage played.

                            I agree about Buddy (or whatever his name was).

                            One thing that kind of bothered me was in the meat packing plant.  They interviewed a guy sitting in a truck who said he was "glad" he wasn't in the pool of players who won.  He didn't want all the "troubles" that the winners supposedly have.  But then in the next scene he's saying that he plays Powerball all the time now, and they showed him in the store buying tickets.  What a liar.  If he really was glad he wasn't a winner, why would he be playing Powerball all the time now?  So he could "not win"?

                            I don't understand why these people can't just say, "Gee, I wish it was me, now I'm going to try and do the same thing they did."  Why do they have to go running these winners down all the time?

                             

                            Check the State Lottery Report Card
                            What grade did your lottery earn?

                             

                            Sign the Petition for True Lottery Drawings
                            Help eliminate computerized drawings!