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Originally published Thursday, May 12, 2005 at 12:00 AM

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Smart cookie brings good fortune to 110 in Powerball

"All the preparation you've done will finally be paying off," read the fortune in Jacquelyn Garrett's cookie. The prophecy caught her eye...

The Washington Post

NEW YORK — "All the preparation you've done will finally be paying off," read the fortune in Jacquelyn Garrett's cookie. The prophecy caught her eye, but it was the numbers stretched across the slip of paper that paid off for her. She played them in the Powerball lottery and won second prize.

She was not alone: An additional 109 people used the same series of numbers to become second-prize Powerball winners in the March 30 drawing.

"We expected four or five and ended up with 110," Chuck Strutt, executive director of the Multi-State Lottery Association, said yesterday. "That's well beyond the realm of normal possibilities."

Lottery officials at first suspected a scam or maybe a computer glitch. They did not suspect fortune cookies that would lead to the payout of, well, a fortune. But there they were: winners in 26 of the 29 states with the lotteries, each bearing the same number series: 22, 28, 32, 33, 39, 40.

Depending on the bet, each winner raked in $100,000 to $500,000 — costing the lottery association nearly $19 million it had not counted on paying out. It made for an expensive night for Powerball, with winners beating the odds in a game with a 1 in 3 million winning combination.

Garrett said she got her fortune cookie at her favorite Chinese restaurant in suburban Nashville, Tenn.

Lottery officials followed the fortune-cookie trail, locating the distributor and then narrowing down the cookie makers to three possibilities. The New York Times yesterday identified the fortune-cookie factory as Wonton Food, a Queens-based company that cranks out 4 million cookies daily.

Derrick Wong, a sales executive at Wonton Food, said the company started printing lottery numbers on fortunes 10 years ago. Numbers are randomly chosen from a big bowl, lottery style, he said.

"It's not magic. It's [a] pretty traditional way," Wong said. "Those people are very, very lucky."

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