I got a call on Friday, February 20, from a J.R. Moore of St. Louis who told me that he had an idea better than President Obama's economic-stimulus plan.
"Could I meet you in person today for five minutes?" asked Moore over the phone. "I'm sure you'll agree that my plan can jump-start the St. Louis economy."
Moore arrived at the RFT office about twenty minutes early for our 2 p.m. meeting. We had never met before, but I knew who he was the moment I saw him walk through our doors. Moore is a dead ringer for wrestler "Macho Man" Randy Savage, and these days anyone touting a "sure-fire economic-stimulus plan" has to be a bit of an eccentric.
Moore tells me that he is a retired tree-trimmer who now finds semi-regular work as a bodyguard and "Macho Man" impersonator. After showing me a few snapshots of him escorting "celebrities" such as Don King, The Wizard of Oz munchkin Mickey Carroll and sports broadcaster Rich Gould, we got down to business.
Here's how Moore's plan works: Buy lottery tickets.
But wait! He has a strategy. Moore follows the Missouri Lottery like trainspotters track rail cars. In a tattered and frayed journal, Moore keeps long lists of every winning Pick 4 number over the past year. He also has copies of checks showing that he's won $12,000 playing the game using the number of his home address: 4020.
Unlike other lottery games, Moore says the Pick 4 has relatively good odds for a cheap price. If you play the numbers in exact order (in Moore's case 4-0-2-0), your chance of winning is 1 in 10,000. And a 50-cent lottery ticket can net you $3,000. Spend a buck and you'll make $6,000.
"People don't even know this game exists," explains Moore. "When I tell people you can play the lottery for 50 cents, people don't believe me."
So, how will this game save the St. Louis economy? Moore scrolls through his list and starts pointing out winning lottery numbers — 3323, 0584, 1206 — that went unclaimed because no one in Missouri chose those combinations.
"Tell me," he asks. "How many people in the St. Louis region have those numbers for an address? Probably dozens, right?"
If everyone in St. Louis plays their home address in the Pick 4, Moore believes several local people each day will win — especially considering that the Pick 4 has two daily drawings. (If your address has less than four numbers, Moore says add a zero or two. If it has more, subtract a number.)
"That's a dozen or so people in St. Louis who could have $3,000 or $6,000 in their pocket each day," says Moore. "And what are they going to do with that cash? They're going to spend it!"
Adds Moore: "Once this catches on, we're going to be more famous than Joe the Plumber! It's a simple solution and a heck of a lot more money than you'll get from the federal government."
And with that, I'm off to 7-Eleven. See ya there!