Barry Saunders

This new lottery promotion smells to high – er, hog – heaven

“N.C. Lottery Tries To Goose Ticket Sales by Smelling Like Pigs.”

That was not the headline in the N&O last week when we ran a story about the N.C. Education Lottery’s latest effort to increase ticket sales, but it would’ve been had I been in charge.

Now you see why they don’t let me behind the headline wheel.

The NCEL really has taken to infusing some lottery tickets with the presumed smell of barbecue pork in its new BBQ Bucks game. Other states, the story noted, sell tickets that smell like coffee, chocolates and bouquets.


Sorry, Sweet Thang. Didn’t have enough money to buy you some flowers, but smell this.

What’s next – stripper-scented lottery tickets? Scoff if you want, but there are men who would pay big bucks for a whiff of that celestial blend of pina colada booty lotion, cigarette smoke and sweat that made each visit to the late, deeply lamented 14 Karat Dinner Theater and Brothers III so memorably aromatic.

Lottery and food

As in most games of chance, though, the greatest chance if you get carried away is that you’ll lose and end up on a freeway off-ramp holding a “Will work for food” sign.

As much as we love barbecue – to eat it, smell it, talk about it – lottery tickets and food don’t mix, and I’m living proof. In 1982, while running a fledgling syndicated news service in Washington, I put down $2 every day I had it for a week on the gotta-hit-one-day digits 1-2-3.

It hit, alright, on the precise day I – en route to the liquor store to play my number – stopped instead at Arby’s and spent the two bucks on a roast beef sandwich.

Satiation turned to sadness hours later when my cousin called to congratulate me.

“I know you got that number, right?”

Uh-oh. “Don’t tell me,” I said.

He told me anyway. He told me that 1-2-3 had finally hit, which would have put $10,000 in my pocket and into my business.

That was on a Saturday. On Monday – there was no Sunday lottery – 4-5-6 hit. I vowed that day to never again play the lottery.

Except for a couple of lapses, I kept that vow until two days ago, when I went out and spent two bucks on BBQ Bucks.

As a connoisseur of the pig – I was a judge in the Rolesville barbecue contest last year but had to demur this year – I can identify the piquant pork perfumery of different regions.

The ticket did indeed have a vaguely smoky barbecuish scent, but only if you sniffed deeply. I didn’t win anything, but at least I’m reminded of what I want for dinner each time I sniff my finger.

As a public service to ensure that the NCEL’s offerings don’t take too big a bite out of our wallets, lottery officials sponsor public service announcements warning people of the dangers of gambling addiction. What hypocrisy, especially when they combine two of the things most necessary for survival – money and barbecue.

If they really want to dissuade us from disposing of too much disposable income on lottery tickets, they can make the tickets smell like another pork product – chitlins.

Regardless of what they smell like, losing lottery tickets won’t smooth the wrinkles in a hungry child’s belly.

Or will they?

Scientists with the NCEL could be hard at work developing edible lottery tickets that can be consumed upon discovering that not a single digit you picked was a winner. They’ll at best provide minimal nutritional value, but you’ll at least be able to destroy the evidence of your financial recklessness.

Until the tickets are made edible, the following scenario will play out around supper tables across the state:

Kid: Papadaddy, can I sniff the ticket? I’m awfully hungry.

Papadaddy: Don’t be greedy, chile. You sniffed it yesterday. Let your little brother have a whiff.

Here’s a tip, though, if you do buy some BBQ Bucks. Use a nail file or paper clip instead of your fingernail to scratch off the tickets. Otherwise, people will look at you funny and wonder why you’re walking around sniffing your fingers.