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WGN Channel 9 - Night Beat - "Spooky Lottery Hijinx" (1980)

Here's an excerpt from an episode of Night Beat on WGN Channel 9 where the news story was about a lottery fraud and scandal in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that took place on Thursday, April 24th 1980, in which people tampered with and rigged the "Daily Number" game by injecting liquid into the ping-pong balls, in order to weigh them down and produce a desired outcome.

Seen selecting the balls is "senior citizen witness" Violet Lowery (not implicated in the scheme). The man on our right is Lottery official Edward Plevel, who was convicted for his role in the fix.

During the course of the story, anchor Jack Taylor narrates over our own Illnois State Lottery Daily Game drawing for Friday, September 19th 1980, in which the winner numbers were 6-3-2.

This aired on local Chicago TV early Saturday, September 20th 1980.

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This clip aired on Saturday, September 20th 1980, and is included in the following categories:

Viewer Comments

Another reason why this is one of my favorite places on the Internet. Not only do we get to see a story that's over 30 years old, we get to see some old lady completely fumble the lottery drawing and then the numbers turn out to be 666!!! We then see Dinah Shore and Fraizer Thomas conduct our lottery drawing:) (if we can't confirm names let's use those Fuzz!) You think the announcer gave everybody up after he yelled "YAHOO we did it Frank, Charlie, Laura, Jim and Edith!!!"
Comment posted by GalagaFleetCommander on Sunday, January 9th 2011 at 11:14pm.

Here's the full story on the Pennsylvania lottery conspiracy. Longtime WTAE-TV announcer Nick Perry and lottery official Edward Plevel (who is seen on-camera during the drawing) both spent two years in state prison for their involvement. Perry died in 2003, having continued to deny any knowledge of the set-up.

If you compare the way the balls behave in the Pennsylvania drawing with the Illinois drawing, it's very obvious that most were weighted down and unable to be pulled up from the bottom of the mixing chamber. The balls in the WGN clip all freely circulate.

Comment posted by T.K. on Monday, January 10th 2011 at 1:03am.

Thanks for the info, T.K.

And Galaga - very funny. :-)

Comment posted by FuzzyMemories on Monday, January 10th 2011 at 1:59am.

Interesting how at the footnote portion of the story my state's lottery drawing is mentioned and how the number came out 6-6-6. Now at this time the only TV station I could've picked up from CT pre-cable would've been channel 8 WTNH, which I don't think carried any lottery drawings. I remember with my first cable go-round in 1983, WVIT 30 had the lottery drawings for the Play 3 and Play 4. Otherwise the only way to read or hear about the drawing was to read the next day's paper or hear about it on a radio newscast.

CPTV had a game called The Rainbow Jackpot which was a game show, which had a pre-written ticket which players bought. And sometimes people got to appear on the TV show which basically involved games of luck trying to stop colors on a board with the push of a button.

The only thing I remember of that show was the bonus round where the day's winner had to stop the letters in the word JACKPOT which were flashing in order of spelling. If after the champ pressed a button and the letters slowed down if it stopped at the letter "T", the entire word would light up and that person won the jackpot which did get to over $1,000,000.

For the record, WTIC-FOX CT is the CT Lottery's station for all their drawings today. And this year marks the CT Lottery's 40th year of existence.

Comment posted by BobAnthony on Monday, January 10th 2011 at 7:29am.

These Night Beat clips are wonderful. I could listen to this guy talk for hours. So smooth.
Comment posted by mobilene on Monday, January 10th 2011 at 7:33am.

Cool clip Fuzzy. Thanks for posting. When did Nightbeat go off the air?
Comment posted by 1980sFan on Monday, January 10th 2011 at 7:59am.

Actually, you do not have to work for Scotland Yard to know how to rig one of these ping pong ball games.
Many times, simple bingo games held by a casino, nursing home, and Archdiocese (sp?) have been accused of rigging a ball or two.
It can also be accomplished by way of how the ball is manufactured; injection molding. All you need is a little excess plastic polymer type (If anyone knows anything about I.M.; I can't remember if ping pong balls are nylon or cellulose).
If it has a noticable wobble while being held up by dinamic air pressure (a blower...llike a hair dryer), then you have a ball that has excess material on one side and doesn't rise as fast as a ball that is "perfectly" molded.

Comment posted by ArmitageNLowell on Monday, January 10th 2011 at 9:59am.

Interesting story.
Comment posted by ChitownTVFan on Monday, January 10th 2011 at 7:55pm.

Just for the record, this took place in Pittsburgh at WTAE and not in Harrisburg. The drawings moved to WHP-TV in the capitol city after this incident occurred.
Comment posted by T.K. on Monday, January 10th 2011 at 11:13pm.

Thanks, T.K. - updated.
Comment posted by FuzzyMemories on Tuesday, January 11th 2011 at 12:55am.

Was this the inspiration for that Travolta/Kudrow movie Lucky Numbers?
Comment posted by OwenRock on Tuesday, January 11th 2011 at 7:15am.

WTAE? You sure this fixed drawing didn't come from WIIC (now WPXI)?
Comment posted by W.B. on Tuesday, January 11th 2011 at 10:36am.

Also, the cyan-colored "Pittsburgh, Pa." super seen while the footage was running (set in Optima Bold), originated from WPIX Channel 11 in New York and evidently came out of the nationally-syndicated "Independent Network News" that was produced there and aired in Chicago on WGN.
Comment posted by W.B. on Tuesday, January 11th 2011 at 10:39am.

Yes, W.B., it was at WTAE, though from the dismal state of WIIC in those days, such a scandal would have probably helped their ratings.

Not to get too far afield, but I've always wondered which way the money flowed for the airing of lottery drawings... were the production facilities and ad time purchased by the state from the lowest bidder (like legal notices in the newspaper), or did the flagship station offer to pay the state the most for exclusive rights (like a sporting event).

I get the impression that it's usually the state paying the station, as here in Washington state, the lottery telecast went from being on KSTW (then a strong independent station) for many years, to NorthWest Cable News for a few years, then to TVW (a local counterpart to C-SPAN), and now it is not being telecast at all. It seems like they were going with a cheaper and cheaper option over time.

Comment posted by T.K. on Wednesday, January 12th 2011 at 12:39am.

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This clip has been viewed 2654 times.
This clip debuted on FuzzyMemories.TV on Sunday, January 9th 2011.
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Most Recent Site Comments

Comment posted in Boxcar Willie - King Of The Road - 20 Great Tracks (Record Offer, 1981) by LaPrincess on Thursday, September 18th, 2014 at 9:20pm CT

My great grandma had this record. Strangely Boxcar Willie looks like he could be related to my guy friend.


Comment posted in Marriott's Great America (Commercial, 1979) by pvx on Thursday, September 18th, 2014 at 12:49am CT

In reply to Szake's, T.K.'s, and Fuzzy's comments regarding the letters flashing in the corners of the screen at the beginning--I have seen this as well in other national TV commercials on film from this era.

I have a really good hunch as to what this is--going from my experience working master control in local commercial television and handling the physical airing of commercial spots (albeit much later in the early 2000s on videotape and satellite-delivered video files for on-air playout, as opposed to the film print this commercial is most likely from), this is more than likely an ISCI (Industry Standard Commercial Identifier) code, an unique 4 letter & 4 number identification code assigned to national commercial spots that receive national network and/or local affiliate airing. Each ISCI code is unique to the spot for identification for advertisers, ad agencies, post-production staff, and the station's/network's traffic/logging, ad sales, and and master control personnel. A typical ISCI code is usually in the format of ABCD1234.

I'd hazard to guess that it must of been the industry standard in the 70s to have the ISCI code digits show up on the corners of the first few film frames of the spot, to ease identification for the master control/projectionist/editor at a station to know what spot it was while splicing it together with other commercial films to make a spot reel (or when threading the spot by itself up in a film-chain projector) for airing in a local commercial break.

When the transition to delivering commercials to stations/networks on videotape became more common practice, usually the ISCI code was displayed during the slate & countdown before the spot on the beginning of the tape (obviously not aired, unless the MCO screwed up and switched it up too early ;) )).

I wonder of the ISCI code of this spot is something like xMxHx0x3 (the "x"s being whatever letters/numbers displayed at the left side of the screen, which is mostly cut off in this video), say, something like IMGH1023?


Comment posted in Boxcar Willie - King Of The Road - 20 Great Tracks (Record Offer, 1981) by Phantom on Wednesday, September 17th, 2014 at 5:10pm CT

This album came from Suffolk Marketing which also sold records of Slim Whitman, Jim Nabors, Jim Reeves & Cristy Lane.


Comment posted in Marriott's Great America (Commercial, 1979) by T.K. on Wednesday, September 17th, 2014 at 4:04pm CT

I was able to stop on two frames... the first with M in the upper-right corner and H in the lower-right and the second frame with O in the upper-right and 3 in the lower-right. So... MO, H3? If it was flashing M-O-M, I'd think maybe it was a subliminal message to ask your mother to buy a ticket.


Comment posted in Marriott's Great America (Commercial, 1979) by FuzzyMemories on Wednesday, September 17th, 2014 at 1:39pm CT

Seriously though, it seems like the letters change in each corner very quickly, like it is cycling through something. I also see an 'O' in the upper-right hand corner. Can't we get the conspiracy nuts to break this down for us? This is probably bigger than the "subliminal" station sign-off message. ;-)


Comment posted in Marriott's Great America (Commercial, 1979) by FuzzyMemories on Wednesday, September 17th, 2014 at 1:36pm CT

I still see the X. ;-)


Comment posted in WGN Channel 9 - 10th Inning with Jack Brickhouse - "Interview with Bob Lurie" (1976) by T.K. on Wednesday, September 17th, 2014 at 8:51am CT

When Lurie said, "Toronto certainly is a great city and I know the commissioner wants to get a team in Washington," he's referring to the Seattle Mariners, the other American League expansion team that had been announced in January 1976.

The A.L. had been embroiled in a lawsuit with the state of Washington, which accused the league of breach of contract for not allowing a local nonprofit group to purchase the bankrupt Seattle Pilots prior to the 1970 season. (The other owners believed their clubs would be devalued as a result of such an arrangement. Instead, the team was sold to Bud Selig and moved to Milwaukee between the end of spring training and Opening Day 1970.) Granting another expansion franchise to Seattle was the league's way of settling the case and avoid paying $32 million in damages.


Comment posted in Boxcar Willie - King Of The Road - 20 Great Tracks (Record Offer, 1981) by Duck 182 on Wednesday, September 17th, 2014 at 3:40am CT

I think I remember my Grandma and Aunt having this on 8 track.


Comment posted in Marriott's Great America (Commercial, 1979) by ER3017 on Tuesday, September 16th, 2014 at 1:19pm CT

I see it too


Comment posted in Marriott's Great America (Commercial, 1979) by Szake on Monday, September 15th, 2014 at 9:14pm CT

You can see a M in the upper right hand corner, an H in the lower right hand corner and an I in the upper left hand corner one second into the video.


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