The distraught young lady at right, Miss Elizabeth Emerson, has just goofed up—only slightly—the first drawing of the New Hampshire Sweepstakes, first legal lottery in the U.S. since 1892. Moments before, the name of Northern Dancer had been drawn from a drum containing the names of 332 horses nominated for the race, and the crowd in attendance at Rockingham Park let out a yell. The lucky holder of a ticket on the horse that wins the race on September 12—and how could you do better than Northern Dancer?—will receive $100,000. So Miss Emerson reached into the large Plexiglas drum to draw out the ticket to be matched with Northern Dancer, and she inadvertently drew two tickets instead.
No lasting damage was done, fortunately, except perhaps to the unknown holders of the two tickets. Their tickets were put back, the drum was rotated and Miss New Hampshire tried again. She drew the ticket belonging to Freda Gardner, a 53-year-old grandmother from Seattle, and the crisis was over. All around the country, however, other things were stirring as the ceremony revealed that the lottery is making money hand over fist for the state, with the end nowhere in sight. The sale began last March (SI, March 30), and about a million tickets, or $3 million worth, have now been sold. By the end of this month the New Hampshire lottery will be well on its way toward $4 million. Among the spectators at the drawing was a distinguished member of the state senate of Kentucky, watching the proceedings with the thoughtful air of a man figuring out how much it will cost him to start a store like this in his state. Long-dormant lottery projects in other states—Rhode Island, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Vermont have all considered them—came to life. New York's ambitious plan for off-track betting parlors, complete with cocktails and televised races, was revived.
Even if competitors appear in other states it is going to take time to catch up with New Hampshire. If the big race goes the way the Sweepstakes Commission expects, their pioneering event will be a national institution before other lotteries are started. The commission expects such horses as Quadrangle and Roman Brother—the race is for 3-year-olds—to compete against Northern Dancer at a mile and three-sixteenths for a purse of $150,000 or so, and also expects the holders of tickets to be following the race with the intense interest natural to those who have a chance to collect $100,000 for $3.
Last week's drawing was merely for the first million dollars' worth of tickets, those sold up to May 29. Other drawings will occur after the ticket sales end late in August or early in September. For each million dollars' worth of tickets sold, one first prize of $100,000 will be awarded to the holder of the ticket on the winning horse, one of $50,000 for the holder of each ticket on the horse finishing second and $25,000 for third, with the holders of tickets on other starting horses sharing a pool of $60,000. Another pool of $65,000 will be divided among the holders of tickets on horses that do not start, paying off approximately $200 apiece. All told, from 30% to 40% of everything taken in goes for prizes. The Federal Government takes 10%, another 10% goes for administration and the remainder goes to the New Hampshire public schools.
July 26, 1964
In addition to her minor goof, Miss Emerson produced some surprises. Though the tickets were as vagrant as leaves in a windstorm, tumbling and falling in the drum and sometimes sticking to the Plexiglas, she drew two belonging to one person, a quarry operator named Martin Zayachek of Glens Falls, N.Y. He thus got Golden Needles and Gallant Leader, neither likely to start in the race. As for the lucky Mrs. Gardner, she had this to say when she heard the news in Seattle: "I've always been crazy about horse racing, but I've never won much. Both my husband and I like to play long shots." She is the wife of a Seattle shipwright and works as a statistical clerk for the telephone company. She shares her ticket with her office mate, Mrs. Margaret Rider, each having put up $1.50. They sent the money to a friend in New Hampshire to buy the ticket. Mrs. Rider has never won any money on a horse race before.