Thursday, February 4, 2010

Playing the Odds: What Do You Do With the Numbers on Those Fortune Cookie Inserts?

Last week I received an email from Myrtle informing me of an incident in 2005 where several people won a multi-state Powerball lottery by playing the numbers they found on a widely distributed fortune cookie insert. I did some research (read: Googled) and found this New York Times article reporting the story. It seems as though 110 players won second prize in the March 30, 2005, Powerball drawing when, according to the total number of tickets sold in the 29 participating states, there should have been only 4 or 5 second-prize winners. The fortune cookie insert with the first five numbers played correctly is posted above. 

Officials from the Multi-State Lottery Association eventually traced the cookies to the same Long Island City, Queens, fortune cookie factory, owned by Wonton Food. 

This factory makes four million fortune cookies each day. The same combination of numbers is placed in thousands of cookies every day. 

The cookies are folded and baked with inserts already inside.

Prior to this Powerball incident, workers at the factory placed numbers in a bowl and randomly selected them. Following the March 30, 2005, $19 million second-prize payout, Derrick Wong, representative of Wonton Food, said the process would undergo a revision: "We are not going to do the bowl anymore; we are going to have a computer. It's more efficient."

My question for you is this: Do you pay any attention to the numbers on fortune cookie inserts? If so, why? I always look to see if my lucky number is listed on the insert I receive.


  1. Not really....I read them, but then ignore them. Never thought about playing them anywhere.

  2. I also look for my lucky number and always toy with the idea of playing them. What we have played so far is NOT working!

  3. I stenciled them on the side of a hatch which I built over a pocket of electromagnetic energy on a mysterious island in the Pacific.

  4. Aside from the hatch, we know of four instances where fortune cookie numbers have been used for winning a lottery as documented on our site:


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