"Lottery!" was an ABC television series that premiered on
September 9, 1983, and aired for one season of 17 episodes. The episodes centered around ordinary people who have won the lottery--all of a sudden becoming millionaires--and how it changes their lives. Each week, several guest stars become instant millionaires (in two or three different stories) when their lottery tickets bring them fame, fortune, and usually trouble.
The series starred
Ben Murphyas Patrick Sean Flaherty, and Marshal Coltas Eric Rush.
Flaherty worked for the "Intersweep Lottery," (a "lottery bank" as stated a winner in one episode) and it was his job to find the winner(s), inform them of their winnings, and give him or her an envelope containing $5,000 in cash, and a check worth millions. In the event of ownership disputes with the winning ticket, Flaherty would also act as an arbitrator responsible for determining the true recipient in what method used to settle the matter.
Rush was Flaherty's partner, an IRS agent who oversaw the accounting of the payouts and the arrangement of the winner's tax obligations.
Each episode also took place in a different city around the country.
The opening titles for the show featured large banks of computers and tape drives. Above what appeared to be a trading floor (similar to what one would see at a stock exchange) were large electronic toteboards showing the latest prizes, the winners' names, and the countries in which they lived. This flurry of activity was never a part of any of the show's episodes, and Flaherty and Rush themselves were never at the Intersweep offices for any of the plot lines.
At the end of every episode, the show displayed the following disclaimer: "The Intersweep Lottery is fictitious. Except where licensed by state governments, lotteries in this country are illegal."
The Intersweep Lottery was more akin to
Publishers Clearing Housethan any of the popular lotterygames in the U.S. and around the world. Rather than having a drawing consisting of individually numbered ping-pong balls selected by randomly ordered machines, participants in this lottery purchased numbered tickets (the cost per ticket was not indicated by the series). Each ticket carried a unique serial number consisting of two letters followed by six numbers (example: AG 482 979). The drawing of winning numbers was also never featured in any of the episodes in this series.
"Lottery!" is not the first series to deal with the elation and challenges of sudden wealth. The basic premise is loosely similar to an earlier series, "
The Millionaire" except the money is given out by a mysterious benefactor to specific named individuals without the organization of a lottery. In 1979, NBCproduced "Sweepstakes", an equally short-lived series with a similar premise (it, too, lasted only a single season). In 2006, NBC tried again with "Windfall", a series about a group of 20 friends winning a multi-million dollar lottery prize -- that series lasted only three months before cancellation.
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