Winner and Loser Lane

The Sydney Morning Herald reports on the Lane family from New York City in which the father named one of his sons Winner and the other Loser. (Actually, the article is a few years old, but it was new to me.) At first the article struck me as sounding too weird to be true. Why would a father name his son Loser? But apparently it's true. At least, it's been reported elsewhere by credible sources, such as in this article by the Freakonomics authors.

The story is that the father, Robert Lane, decided to call his son Winner, thinking it would give the kid a boost in life. Three years later he had another son, and on the spur of the moment decided to call him Loser. As the Freakonomics authors say about his decision, "Robert wasn't unhappy about the new baby; he just seemed to get a kick out of the name's bookend effect." If the guy had a third son he should have called him "Lover." That, at least, would have fit with the last name.

The punchline to the story is that Winner Lane ended up as a loser in life, a petty criminal living homeless on the streets. Loser Lane, on the other hand, has been a success in life. He's a detective in the South Bronx.

I should add Loser Lane to my unfortunate names thread.


Posted on Thu Jun 14, 2007


The irony of it all...
*shakes head*
Posted by oppiejoe  in  Michigan - USA  on  Thu Jun 14, 2007  at  01:22 PM
Wow, if something like that didn't give the kid confidence problems, then he must have skin like steel.
Posted by pinkgummiworms  on  Thu Jun 14, 2007  at  01:29 PM
Didn't Johnny Cash & Shel Silverstein already prove this with A Boy Named Sue?
Posted by Chris Carlisle  on  Thu Jun 14, 2007  at  01:38 PM
No daughter named Penny?
Posted by Zoom  in  good time  on  Thu Jun 14, 2007  at  05:41 PM
It's kind of sad the way some parents seem to forget that their children are actually real people, and do things like that to them just because they think it's a funny joke.
Posted by Accipiter  on  Thu Jun 14, 2007  at  11:33 PM
As a native son of the Only New York City Borough on the Mainland, I'm not entirely sure that working as a detective in the former Fort Apache necessarily qualifies one as a "success."
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Fri Jun 15, 2007  at  04:25 AM
That Freakonomics chapter was fantastic. Steven Levitt is my hero.
Posted by Razela  in  Chicago, IL  on  Fri Jun 15, 2007  at  11:11 PM
Some people shouldn
Posted by Cecilia  in  sweden  on  Sat Jun 16, 2007  at  07:13 AM
If Winner and Loser didn't want the names, it isn't hard to change a name. There may be no list of approved names but with names like those, I can't believe any judge would refuse to grant a name-change petition.
Posted by Christopher Cole  in  Tucson, AZ  on  Sat Jun 16, 2007  at  04:30 PM
In France, I've heard the government actually has to approve a parent's name choice before it's bestowed on a newborn. That may be because of their unfortunate experiences with Maximilien Robespierre and Napoleon Bonaparte. Does anyone know if this is true?
Posted by Phred22  on  Sun Jun 17, 2007  at  09:23 AM
I know this man and have dated for several years. It was wierd at first but it all worked out. On the force he was called LOU. A really gggggreat guy.
Posted by tee  in  NJ  on  Tue May 29, 2012  at  10:03 AM
I've worked with Lou in the narcotic day when we were cops. Good stand up guy. Great cop.
Posted by Angel Nieves  in  NYC  on  Tue May 21, 2013  at  11:44 AM
Commenting is no longer available in this channel entry.