The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Entertainment

March 5, 2009

Lewisburg man pens book on people playing the lottery

LEWISBURG — Playing the lottery is like enjoying an over-the-top action movie. It’s all about the suspension of disbelief.

Everyone knows the odds are stacked against them — one in 175,000,000, one in 196,000,000 for the big money games, Mega Millions and Powerball respectively — but they play anyway, clinging to that mad hope that THIS is the winning ticket.

Author Rick Dandes, of Lewisburg, has been writing about those people for the past 10 years, listening to their stories and hoping that one day he would have one of his own to tell.

“Since it’ll all luck and fate, I believe I’m going to win some day,” he said. “In fact, I think I’m going to win tonight.”

Dandes’ new book (his second), “Lottery: A Guide to American Lotteries,” collects those stories into a single edition, coupled with the history of the game, insider information, tips and strategies.

Dandes, who is a reporter for The Daily Item, got into the lottery business when a former mentor at TV Guide — one of Dandes’ previous employers — called to say he was starting a lottery magazine and wanted Dandes to be the editor.

“I thought it was the stupidest subject for a magazine,” said Dandes, “and I knew nothing about the business. But I needed work, and I knew the boss, so I took the job.” Over the next 10 years, Dandes traveled across the country, interviewing dozens of lottery winners, including Sen. Judd Gregg, of New Hampshire, and Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson, a former all-star linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys, along with plenty of not-so-famous people who had struck it rich.

“What I started enjoying, there’s always a story behind the person,” said Dandes. “Politicians, doctors, lawyers, street people, drug dealers … they all win. There is no accounting for it.”

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