Here's Bob's preliminary account of the powerball lottery hoax
Alan Abel and I have been talking about doing something with the Powerball for the better part of a year now. It all came together really quickly last weekend when we heard that the record Powerball jackpot was finally won. A number of things came together that made this week just about perfect: It was a record amount; there was only one winner; it was won in a rural state which would make things seem less suspicious; Monday was a holiday, meaning that the lottery office would be closed, almost certainly buying us at least 24 hours to operate before the real winner surfaced.
This is just sort of the Reader's Digest version but I'll put something more comprehensive together for you on Thursday. I flew to Omaha on Sunday afternoon and arrived at midnight Central Time. Monday morning, Alan, his daughter's boyfriend Jeff (who was there to videotape the event and was playing my son) and a lovely woman named Nancy (who played my niece) headed over to Lincoln to set up. We found the convenience store where the ticket was sold; there were about a half-dozen TV satellite trucks outside it. We wanted to find a nice Mom and Pop-type restaurant not too far from there where we could operate.
On the same street, but across town, we found a Denny's-type place called The Village Inn. I walked in, introduced myself to the manager and gave him an envelope with $2000 in it, which I told him to use to pay for the check of everyone in the place. Within about 10 minutes, the first reporter, from a local radio station, showed up. I recorded an interview with him and he also did a live shot from there over his cell phone.
Next, I got a call from Good Morning, America which wanted to fly me to New York City immediately so I could be on their show the next morning. Obviously, I had to decline. Then the floodgates opened. Over the next 2.5 hours or so I was inundated with media. At one point, I had five TV cameras pointed at me, a radio reporter to my left and a print guy to my right. It was madness.
In time, though, the inconsistencies in my story started to show. Since I wasn't privy to the details of the real ticket, I had to make things up. I said that I bought one ticket; the lottery commission said, however, that the winner had bought five sets of numbers on one ticket. Also, I said that I thought that it was a man who sold me the ticket; in reality, it was a woman who sold it. And so forth.
Finally, we decided to head back to our hotel in Omaha. We weren't sure if the thing was going to have "legs" as they say, but it's only gotten crazier since then. I did a short interview over the phone with KPTV, Channel 12 in Portland, OR from the airport in Vegas. Today, I talked to a columnist in Des Moines, KPAM radio in Portland and I'm going to be on the Johnathan Brandmier show in Chicago early Thursday morning.
By the way, using the last name "Pagano" rather than "Pagani" was Alan's idea. His thought was that I HAD to use a different name since I'm fairly prominent on Google but if I used a totally different name, it was possible that one or more of my friends would see me and contact the media outlet to let them know that they got my name wrong. On the other hand, with only one letter off, they'd think that it was a simple typo and just let it pass. Good thinking.
I should mention that the whole venture was bankrolled by a guy named Joe Vitale, who has a website at joevitale.com. We couldn't have done it without his patronage.
So, that's the thumbnail version. I'm going to be putting together a longer narrative later, as soon as I (hopefully) get over the horrible virus which has infected everyone in my family and which is making it almost impossible for me to hear anything on my right side.