The Pennsylvania Lottery changes an awful holiday tradition

For years, residents of Pennsylvania could count on seeing the above commercial during the holiday season, advertising how great lottery tickets were as gifts. Like clockwork, the commercial would show up on every TV channel starting on Black Friday,and seemingly run every commercial break. The ad has been running since 1992, with occasional edits to reflect new games offered by the lottery.

The ad itself isn't too bad, but the sheer amount of times that it's played during the holiday season is enough to drive someone mad. As the elderly man walks throughout his small town handing out scratchoffs to various people he seemingly interacts with on a daily basis, like the guy at the newsstand or the girl at the coffee shop, a batch of Christmas carolers sing about the various games the state lottery offers to the tune of "The Twelve Days of Christmas", and I'm sure every resident of the state knows exactly which random number games Pennsylvania offers mainly due to this commercial.

Of course, we're in the year 2012, and the old way of doing things just doesn't work anymore. The lottery had to tinker with the commercial for this year's holiday season, and sure enough, they did…by replacing several of the actors in the commercial with younger, seemingly more happy people.

I'm not sure why exactly the Pennsylvania lottery felt the need to mess with a tradition, albeit a tradition that drives people insane. The names (Joe and Rita) remain the same, but the grandfather-looking man from early days has been replaced with a guy who looks more like an uncle…an uncle that would give you a lottery ticket as a gift because he's lazy, not because he doesn't know any better. The new guy's voice seems smarmy and fake as opposed to genuinely excited like the older man in the earlier commercial. 

Rita's manager/coworker/husband at the coffee shop also has changed his tone. Instead of being thankful and excited like he was in the earlier commercial, the handshake and thank you seem like a formality in the newer commercial, while the smile on Rita's face looks like a confused one. Finally, there's our old friend at the newsstand, who has transformed from a wacky old man to a younger (although still middle-aged) man that has much less appeal on a wider scale, generating a much lesser reaction from the old man with a surprised and thankful look on his face.

This almost seems like a reflection on how people view scratchoff tickets as gifts in the year 2012. Giving someone a scratchoff is essentially saying "hey, I spent somewhere between $1 and $20 on you to potentially win a free ticket or enough money to buy a value meal at McDonalds!" Scratchoffs aren't practical anymore, and with how easy it is to get a gift card nowadays, it's just so much easier to get a handful of $10-$20 gift cards for a gas station or a coffee shop or something along those lines as opposed to a scratchoff. I remember a relative buying me $20 in dollar scratchoffs for Christmas one year, and I think I won about $2 in total. Instead of just giving me $20 in cash or a gift card that I could actually use, you gave me a pile of tickets that I spent 15 minutes scratching, covering your kitchen table in residue from the tickets, and all I got was enough money to buy ANOTHER TICKET? Gee, thanks a lot.

Joe Lucia

About Joe Lucia

Managing editor of The Outside Corner. Associate editor of Awful Announcing. Content and data specialist for Bloguin. Based out of Harrisburg, PA - the most mediocre place on Earth.