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Flashback: Winners are drawn in New York state's first lottery in 1967

Jul 19, 2017, 12:50 pm

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The New York State Lottery is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

On Election Day in 1966, New Yorkers voted in favor to approve a constitutional amendment authorizing a government-run lottery, with its proceeds to be "applied exclusively to, or in aid or support of education. It was the second state lottery in the nation, following New Hampshire's in 1964.

Plans for the first lottery drawing were finalized in April 1967.

One dollar tickets would go on sale on June 1 at hotels, motels, banks and Western Union offices.

There would be 240 winners for each $1 million in tickets sold and there would be two tiers of prizes.

In the "Grand Prize Tier," the top prize would be $100,000; second prize $50,000; third prize $35,000; fourth $10,000 and places five through 15 would receive $5,000. In the "Consolation Tier," winners could earn between $1,000 and $150.

To avoid the 10 percent federal wagering tax, a compromise was struck to use a "horsebowl" system to decide who won the grand prizes. (Lotteries based on horse racing were exempt.)

The format was described in a Post-Standard article from April 20, 1967: "From the revolving glass drums winners will be picked, given post positions and then matched with winners of a race determined after the lucky tickets are drawn. The horse race will be run a week before the drawings, but will be chosen until after the winning tickets are drawn."

The actual drawing was just as complicated.

On July 20 and 21, 1,547 tickets were drawn in Albany, placed into a "winner's drum" and transported to New York City inside an armored car for the next drawing. Each one of these tickets had a shot at one of the six $100,000 prizes.

On July 24, 90 tickets were drawn and placed in the Grand Prize Tier, the rest in the Consolation Tier. The selected tickets were given a post position number, and, finally, a final drawing on July 26 would determine which horse race would be used to determine the final prize allocation.

Twenty tickets from the initial drawings were from Onondaga County residents.

Arthur O'Dell, 65, was drawn fourth overall.

The Post-Standard sent a reporter to speak with him at his job at Lipe-Rollway Corp.

"I'm a very lucky man," he told the newspaper, adding he planned to use the money to travel to Florida with his roommate after he retired next year.

"I will tell you one thing," he said. "I won't spend it foolishly like I did when I was young." (He would end up with $150 from the consolation tier.)

All the winners contacted by the Post-Standard expressed excitement, but mostly disbelief about winning.

"I just didn't believe it," said Lillian Shelley. "I've never won anything in my life."

Eight-year-old Stacey Lyon, of Westcott Street, was described as "thrilled," but did not quite understand the fuss when the ticket her great-grandmother bought for her was chosen.

Liverpool Attorney Anthony Vecchio thought his friends were pranking him when the Post-Standard called about taking his picture: "No one was more surprised than I when a guy showed up at 9 p.m. with a camera!"

Most surprised was Joseph Chiarmonte who was pulled over by a police officer on Warren Street. A small crowd gathered expecting to see him get a ticket, but instead saw the officer, who was friend of Chiarmonte's, shake his hand for winning.

"It was the first I'd heard about it," he said, "because I hadn't even read the paper."

None of these folks were drawn into the final round, but Edwin Shapero, 40, a salesman at Syracuse Rope and Twine, was selected.

"I have no idea what I'd do with the money, but we are going to share this," he said.

All he needed was for the horse from post position 13 to win in the race drawn.

It didn't. He won $5,000 after the fourth race at Aqueduct on July 19 was chosen. The winning horse was Wiggin's Fork.

One of the six grand prize winners did have a Syracuse tie.

Charles Holt, 20, of Shokan, was a junior at Syracuse University when he won. His mother bought a ticket for each of her children.

He planned to use his winnings on his upcoming wedding and promised to help his parents.

"They'll be taken care of. I remember who has been paying for my schooling," he said.

According to an Associated Press story, the lottery is now the "nation's largest and most profitable program of its kind."

State officials say more than $83 billion have been paid out to winners and more than $61 billion has been raised to support education.

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9 comments. Last comment 3 years ago by Cassie8620.
Page 1 of 1
United States
Member #163184
January 22, 2015
2282 Posts

Thank you Todd for posting another feel good article from a long ago era.  Lotteries sure have come a LONG way in fifty years.  Back then those prizes were big money to the winners and nice that so many were able to win something even if it was just $150.

    gocart1's avatar - lighthouse
    United States
    Member #30515
    January 17, 2006
    447 Posts

    A lot of New Yorkers don't know the New York Lottery is this old ..PartyUS FlagParty

      dpoly1's avatar - driver
      United States
      Member #66139
      October 16, 2008
      1991 Posts

      Great post Todd!!

      dpoly1 - Playing the lottery to save the jobs of those that build, transport, sell & maintain luxury items! -


      Eschew Poverty ........... Vote Conservative!

        Chasing $ Millions.
        White Shores- California
        United States
        Member #136473
        December 12, 2012
        6336 Posts

        Thank you Todd for posting another feel good article from a long ago era.  Lotteries sure have come a LONG way in fifty years.  Back then those prizes were big money to the winners and nice that so many were able to win something even if it was just $150.

        I Agree!..Todd is known for dredging, and not just any dredging - we talking Deep.Bringing up these sinkers from yesteryear tells a story as to how far this industry has come.

        On a side note: l wonder if Charles & Francis tied the knot? Looks like she was ready to nibble on his ear, right there and then.Big Smile

         * Voice of Reason *   


        People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it- George Bernard Shaw.

          music*'s avatar - DiscoBallGlowing
          USN United States Navy
          Fresno, California
          United States
          Member #157851
          August 2, 2014
          3959 Posts

           Congratulations to the New York Lottery and the players. 

           Two notables are Curtis Sharp and Lou Eisenberg. They won in 1981. $5,000,000 each. 

           I am amazed at how grateful the winners were back in the late '60s and the '70s when they won jackpots of less than a million dollars.  Now they turn their noses up at tens and hundreds of millions of dollars. I know, it is the odds today. 

          US Flag

           "We are all in this together!" 

            Wyomissing, PA
            United States
            Member #161045
            November 15, 2014
            481 Posts

            It's likely some players have been buying NY Lottery tickets over that 50 years (half a century) and likely haven't won more than a few hundred dollars, if that, on any ticket over that entire time, especially if they've mostly played jackpot lotto games verses Pick-3 and Pick-4.

            People back then, by and large, weren't as desperate for money as today; less stressed. While standard of living today for most is better, the costs of housing, transportation, health care, education, etc are much higher after adjusting for inflation. Combine that with less stable, often lower paying jobs and it's no wonder players are desperate to hit the big multimillion jackpot verses being happy winning a few hundred extra bucks or whatever.

            As for supporting education. Lotteries have brought in more money for sure, but in many instances haven't helped to the extent one would expect from what they read. Presumably, NY state reduced education funding, over time, as lottery revenue increased to offset it; a shell game of sorts. Maybe NY state hasn't done this, but I'd be surprised, since many other states and jurisdictions with similar lottery funding schemes have.

            Regardless, it's nice that people have a legal alternative to playing the numbers rackets, though they often paid out better, but could be brutal to gamblers who over-extended themselves and played on credit. Also, lotteries can often absorb far greater losses than many numbers rackets ever could...

            For example, PA Lottery regularly allows upwards of $10 million dollars to be wagered on any given number every Pick-4 drawing and still pay out fixed dollar prizes; rackets would likely pay para-mutuel like some lotteries, such as NJ, still do resulting in far smaller prizes for heavily played numbers.

            Other lotteries, such as PA, will be celebrating their 50th within the next several years. It's amazing how they've evolved and changed over that time.

              TheMeatman2005's avatar - lightening
              Brooklyn, NY
              United States
              Member #169719
              October 29, 2015
              1494 Posts

              PartyHappy 50th Anniversary NY Lottery!Party

              This ticket isn't quite as old as the NY Lottery, but it's close at 43 years old.

              !974 NY Lottery Ticket

              The Meatman 🥩🍗🍔🍖🍤🌭

              “The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it in your back pocket.” Will Rogers

              Winning happens in a flash, Like A Bolt Of Lightning!  Patriot

                lejardin's avatar - Lottery-014.jpg

                United States
                Member #118605
                November 4, 2011
                1429 Posts

                PartyHappy 50th Anniversary NY Lottery!Party

                This ticket isn't quite as old as the NY Lottery, but it's close at 43 years old.

                !974 NY Lottery Ticket

                Now that is cool to see!  And I remember days of 1974 not exactly April though.  Thanks for posting.

                  Cassie8620's avatar - oGH0ok
                  United States
                  Member #180566
                  March 13, 2017
                  4319 Posts

                  I was not born in the 1960s but i like to know this historic stuff. Thanks for this thread i love to see this.

                  13G's!+ total (2019)& P4 total >>>  22,000!(So Far in 2020!)  Time 2 break the bank, baby!Banana 0131 0068 0809     

                  0518 0159 6442 0305 0306,1020,1021, 1061 1106,1120,1211, 1212,1031 1034,1035 1038,1140 1141,1177 1215, 1301, 1310 3100, 3101, 7678 7897, 7898 8768 8486  4764 4774 6747 7466 7664  7640, 1129, 1114 1177 1569 1623 5910 2600 1711 1850 3009 4764 1140,1411,4774 7077 7462 7467 6159, 6230 6231 3533, 5592,5593, 5925,9335 9615.