Alan Abel has struck again, this time with the help of a regular here at the Museum of Hoaxes, Bob Pagani (aka Cranky Media Guy). Bob pretended to be the winner of the $365M Powerball lottery. (The real winners were a bunch of meat packers.) Apparently Abel helped behind the scenes. The action took place on Monday, but I didn't hear about it until today when I got an email from a reporter at the Des Moines Register
asking me if I had heard about the Powerball Prank, and what I thought about it. A quick news search pulled up this article
On Monday, a man who said he was an unemployed trucker from Omaha named Bob Pagano showed up flashing cash in Lincoln at a local Village Inn restaurant, claimed he was the winner and bought everybody in the place dinner. But Pagano said he had picked the winning numbers, while lottery officials said the winning numbers were a "quick-pick" generated by computer. Also, the photocopy of what Pagano claimed was the winning ticket said it was bought on Sunday, Feb. 17. Sunday was Feb. 19. The drawing was on Saturday, the 18th.
Alas, it was learned Tuesday that the man's name actually was Bob Pagani - not Pagano. Pagani is a cohort of Alan Abel, who has long been known around the world for putting on elaborate hoaxes. "Bob Pagani has been a confederate of mine for 25 years," Abel told The Associated Press.
Abel said he and Pagani noticed the gaffe on the date printed on the photocopy of the purported winning ticket just before launching their ruse.
"It was a goof," he said. Pagani said he'd been planning a Powerball hoax for about a year.
"He held court for about three hours at the Village Inn restaurant," Abel said. "He was swarmed."
More details from Bob himself should be forthcoming soon!
On a historical note, this isn't the first time Abel has engineered a lottery prank. He pulled the same prank back in 1990. On January 8, 1990 Charlene Taylor held a party at the Omni Park Central Hotel in mid-Manhattan to announce that she was the winner of the recent $35 million New York lottery. She told the media that the winning numbers had been revealed to her in a dream by Malcolm Forbes and Donald Trump as they flew around on a magic carpet. All of this was duly reported by the New York press. A day later the media realized that Taylor wasn't a lottery winner. She was actually an actress hired by Abel. The New York Daily News
was the only paper not to fall for the hoax, because its reporter had recognized Abel standing in Taylor's hotel room.