When Hollywood does a story about a lottery winner, it’s a romantic comedy with a morality fable woven in. Nicolas Cage is the nice policeman who tips his sweet-natured blonde waitress half a lottery ticket. Together the Aryans edge out Cage’s evil wife, Rosie Perez, lose all the money, but get rich off the milk of human kindness anyway. (We didn’t read the entire plot summary, but this seems like the gist of it.) When real life gives us a story about a lottery winner, it makes us want to give up on real life. According to Jill Cook, who both runs the diner in Albany where the recent Mega Millions winners usually lunch and has been providing quotes for the New York Post’s entire lottery coverage, one employee decided not to chip in for the ticket that fateful Friday last week when seven of his co-workers won $319 million.
“The word is that when they were going around the office asking who wanted in on the pool, one guy said no, that he wasn’t feeling lucky,” said Jill Cook, who with husband Tom owns Cook’s Deli in Albany, where the winners are lunchtime regulars.
Dear God, that’s worse than we thought. It’s not just that he didn’t show up to work that day or didn’t have the cash. He was asked twice and couldn’t even muster a half-joking, half-desperate, “But if you win today, I get in on that, right?” which everyone knows should be said loud enough to loft over at least three cubicles to be legally binding. Once the world learns his name, it will forever be invoked to goad office workers into forking over a dollar in the hope that they may be the one to say, “Better luck next time,” and not the other way around.