To Our Readers

THE NUMBERS SPIN on a wheel, or roll out of a tumbler filled with numbered ping-pong balls, for a few seconds thousands of people hold their breath, hoping they've won the jackpot. It's a dream that's played out night after night in homes all across the land "If I win that fortune, the first thing l'll buy is . . . " Never mind that the odds of winning are nearly impossible. Never mind common sense. It's the lure of the "free lunch," the promise of getting something for nothing, or for nothing more than the price of a lottery ticket, that captures the imagination.

Candace du Mars, the author of this week's Cover Story, sees such temptations cropping up in many forms of late. "Some hope that they'll win the lottery, others wait for an inheritance, and still others wish and pray that sweepstakes, raffles, or free giveaways will bring the windfall of their dreams," she writes. If not this time, then the next, or the next. Just wait.

January 24, 2000

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