LINCOLN, R.I. — Nine students from several Rhode Island colleges gathered at Twin River Casino Wednesday night to audition for jobs reading the Daily Numbers and Wild Money numbers for the Rhode Island Lottery.
Although the Lottery numbers are broadcast on Channel 12, they're read inside a small glass-enclosed studio at Twin River, just off a busy casino floor.
"It's one thing to practice in front of a mirror and it's another to be in front of a real camera," said Jahnna Burke, a 21-year-old URI student who wants to be a broadcast journalist. "I'm a little bit nervous... this is new for me. I don't watch the numbers. My boyfriend watches the numbers."
Erica Clark, a 19-year-old student at Rhode Island College, said she didn't feel any nerves. She's a communications major who said she has wanted to be a news anchor her whole life. "My grandmother was my best friend, and I would watch the numbers with her every night," she said. "My grandmother always played the numbers."
They gathered under the watchful eyes of Lottery officials Joe DeOrsey and Jane Tougas. The Lottery is looking for about seven new announcers, who will be added to three returning veterans to make up a 10-person rotation. Everyone will work about three nights a month. The pay is $40 per night.
DeOrsey and Tougas showed students the machines, where the balls danced inside on currents of air before one lucky number at a time was propelled through a tube. Students do not operate the machines, and never, never touch the numbers. As a matter of fact, the numbers themselves are the real stars of the show, and they get a lot more camera time than the students.
Nevertheless, the Lottery is looking for students who are well-spoken and professional. Above all, they need to read the numbers accurately, and be reliable. "The Lottery is on 365 days a year," Tougas told the students. "All the holidays, all the hurricanes, all the blizzards. The Lottery still goes on."
Each Lottery announcement lasts only 30 seconds. But it's still live TV.
Kristen Colucci is a 19-year-old communications major at URI. "This is the first opportunity I've heard about that was relevant to what I want to do ... I used to be in theater, so I've done a lot of acting," she said. "The only thing I'm worried about is confusing a six and a nine."