Why I Tossed A Winning Lottery Ticket Out The Car Window

The moment still haunts me to this day.

woman looking distraught with car door open Nicoleta Ionescu | Shutterstock

My mother has always loved lottery scratch tickets.

She doesn’t buy them with reckless abandon, but every now and again, she enjoys a good scratching session.

When I was a little girl, I’d beg my mother to buy me a scratch ticket.

She always let me have one of her dollar scratch-offs to keep me busy in the backseat of the car on the ride home.

Back then, there was a popular one-dollar scratch ticket based on the innings of a baseball game. It was my favorite scratch ticket.


I loved to scratch off the little baseballs on the front of the ticket and watch my fingernails turn black.

My mother didn’t buy it for me, of course. She was just allowing me to scratch it for her for fun.

Now, my understanding of this lottery ticket was this: If any of the numbers behind my baseballs was higher than the number behind the game baseball, then the ticket was a winner.

I was wrong.

Any number "equal to or higher than" was a winner. See where I’m going here?

After I scratched the ticket and confirmed that none of the numbers was higher than the game ball, I tossed it out the window.


I know there are more than a few problems with this. The first problem is that I shouldn’t be tossing things out the window; I know that now.

The second problem is that I knew one of my baseballs was equal to the baseball on the far right side of the ticket — the baseball I thought I was supposed to beat.

This is why children shouldn’t play the lottery. I know it’s not the main reason, but it’s a good reason.

At least it was a good enough reason for my mother once she learned what I’d done.

"It still haunts me to this day," my mother told me. "Who knows how much money you threw out the car window onto the highway? I can only hope someone found the ticket and cashed it in. At least it would have gone to good use."


It’s been a long time since that day, and I still remember it like it was yesterday.

The silver-black residue under my fingernails, the disappointment at coming so close to beating the target number only to match it instead, the certainty that the ticket was a loser, then cranking open the window and throwing the offending ticket into the wind.

The worst of it wouldn’t have happened if I had learned not to be a litterbug sooner. So maybe I deserved the loss. Then again, it wasn’t my ticket in the first place.


Tracey Folly is a writer who has been contributing lifestyle and relationship content to the Internet since 2009.