The last time I cracked open a fortune cookie, my fortune said something weak about optimism and taught me the Chinese characters for zebra, which immediately passed all six trigonometric functions on the list of information I will never use. Meanwhile, when Ronnie Martin pulled a slip of paper out of his own fortune cookie, it helped him win a million bucks.
Martin, who is from Long Pond, Pennsylvania, bought three Mega Millions tickets on his way to work last week and, as always, he played the ‘lucky numbers’ he’d gotten from a fortune cookie several years ago. He pocketed his tickets until the next day, when he stopped back into the gas station to scan them. After he swiped one ticket, the display screen on the scanner said “See Cashier,” so he walked to the counter to see if there was something wrong with the machine.
According to a press release from the New Jersey Lottery, the cashier, identified only as Gary, scanned the ticket, and showed Martin the display [on the register] that read “$1,000,000.” Martin—who managed to stay calm while holding an oversized yellow check written for one million dollars—said that he and his wife will use the money to pay off their house and pay some bills before putting the rest in the bank. Martin’s lucky numbers were 1, 2, 4, 19, and 29, and the odds of his win were about 12.6 to 1 (which are still better than the odds I’ll ever need to write the word zebra in Chinese).
Martin isn’t the first person to cash in thanks to the psychic abilities of a cellophane wrapped cookie. In August, a Vancouver man found three fortunes inside one cookie, and two of them said “Buy a ticket. All of your financial troubles will soon be solved.” He did, and they were: He won $125,000 in the lottery that night. “Who knew my day would be turned upside down by the message on a fortune cookie?” he told Washington’s Lottery officials.
In May, Loraine Simon Henry won $100,000 in the Virginia Lottery after playing the numbers from a fortune cookie. And on Valentine’s Day, an unidentified North Carolina man drove into South Carolina to pick up a ticket. He won $200,000 using numbers from—you guessed it—a goddamn fortune cookie. “My wife eats the fortune cookies,” he told GoUpstate.com “And I save our fortunes.” (DUDE, THAT WORKS ON SO MANY LEVELS).
But the biggest cookie windfall happened in 2005, when 110 people collected either $100,000 or $500,000 depending on how they’d marked their tickets, all because they used the numbers from their own fortune cookies. That combination of digits (22, 28, 32, 33, and 39) were pulled from cookies manufactured by Wonton Food Inc. in Long Island City, New York. We are so excited," said Ho Sing Lee, the president of Wonton Food, told the New York Daily News at the time. "I knew people took our lucky numbers seriously. It shows that they really do tell fortunes, and we are happy so many people have benefited.”
The Powerball jackpot is up to $229 million this week. Does anybody want to trade fortunes? I’d be glad to teach you how to say zebra.