by Pettus Read
The term "luck" seems to apply to some individuals much more than others. I have seen the same person win contest after contest without really having any true talent other than they are really lucky. I have had people say they do not believe in luck, but there are times that the way some folks just happen to be blessed with the luck of the draw, you have to wonder if luck is not something they were born with.
The other night, I read in the newspaper where Memphis resident Minnie Williams won $1 million in the Tennessee Lottery's second "Millionaire Live!" drawing event. Back in December, Angela Hammock of Ramer, Tennessee had an instant ticket for a grand prize of $1000 a week for the rest of her life. I am sure both of these ladies feel very lucky to have become better off financially from a simple drawing. Just imagine what it must feel like to become a millionaire overnight.
However, in the same story, I read where $246 million went in the lottery pot for education. Those extra dollars did not really come from the winners either. Those millions were added to the state coffers from a whole lot of losers.
A few years back, I had to attend a conference held in Las Vegas with a group of farmers. I'll never forget what one elderly farmer told me when we entered our hotel, which included a very large casino. As we passed the many gamblers sitting at the slot machines he said, "Son, just remember that all of these big buildings and fancy hotels were all built by losers."
Ever since then, those words have stayed with me when it came to gambling. I'll just stick to blessings and let the luck go.
Just recently, I learned that agriculture is even involved in the new lottery program. Not in the gambling side, but in the regulatory portion of making the contest as fair as possible. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture, besides looking after agricultural related issues in the state, is also a consumer protection agency which plays a significant part in the health, safety and welfare of every Tennessean. TDA enforces a variety of "truth in labeling" laws and regulations which may include implicit and explicit quality and quantity guarantees.
They make sure that when you pull up to a gas pump for fuel, the amount the pump says you are getting, is really what you are putting in your automobile. They check the scales at the butcher shop, candy store and anywhere else scales are used to weigh consumer food products.
Being the weights and measures regulatory agency in the state, and with the current lottery program underway, they are even involved in weighing the ping pong balls that are used to pick the lucky numbers for future millionaires. They make sure each ball weighs the same so when the air is turned on, each one has an equal chance of going out the slot.
Even a Tennessee pig has had a chance with fame from the lottery program. If you have seen the recent TV commercials with movie star and Covington, Tennessee native Isaac Hayes holding a cute white pig, then you are seeing an agricultural product right off a Rutherford swine producer's farm.
The producers of the commercial called the farmer early one morning and asked for a pig to use in their filming for the day. The farmer loaned them a ten pound pig and even cleaned the little star up before they arrived to pick it up.
When they got to the farm to get their new cast member, and Isaac Hayes' co-star, they asked the farmer what the pig's name was. He looked the producer in the eye and said, "Around here we usually don't name anything that we might eat."
When the pig was returned, it came back with a name and as far as I know, Lady Lucky is still doing just fine. However, there are no guarantees for the future.
So I guess agriculture and Tennessee's pork producers are helping out Tennessee's citizenry in their hopes of someday gaining a little bit of luck. But, I'd rather take my chances at blessings any day.