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The Man-Eating Tree of Madagascar Hoax, 1874
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Bob Pagano Wins $365M Powerball Lottery
Status: Hoax
Alan Abel has struck again, this time with the help of a regular here at the Museum of Hoaxes, Bob Pagani (aka Cranky Media Guy). Bob pretended to be the winner of the $365M Powerball lottery. (The real winners were a bunch of meat packers.) Apparently Abel helped behind the scenes. The action took place on Monday, but I didn't hear about it until today when I got an email from a reporter at the Des Moines Register asking me if I had heard about the Powerball Prank, and what I thought about it. A quick news search pulled up this article:

On Monday, a man who said he was an unemployed trucker from Omaha named Bob Pagano showed up flashing cash in Lincoln at a local Village Inn restaurant, claimed he was the winner and bought everybody in the place dinner. But Pagano said he had picked the winning numbers, while lottery officials said the winning numbers were a "quick-pick" generated by computer. Also, the photocopy of what Pagano claimed was the winning ticket said it was bought on Sunday, Feb. 17. Sunday was Feb. 19. The drawing was on Saturday, the 18th.
Alas, it was learned Tuesday that the man's name actually was Bob Pagani - not Pagano. Pagani is a cohort of Alan Abel, who has long been known around the world for putting on elaborate hoaxes. "Bob Pagani has been a confederate of mine for 25 years," Abel told The Associated Press.
Abel said he and Pagani noticed the gaffe on the date printed on the photocopy of the purported winning ticket just before launching their ruse.
"It was a goof," he said. Pagani said he'd been planning a Powerball hoax for about a year.
"He held court for about three hours at the Village Inn restaurant," Abel said. "He was swarmed."


More details from Bob himself should be forthcoming soon!

On a historical note, this isn't the first time Abel has engineered a lottery prank. He pulled the same prank back in 1990. On January 8, 1990 Charlene Taylor held a party at the Omni Park Central Hotel in mid-Manhattan to announce that she was the winner of the recent $35 million New York lottery. She told the media that the winning numbers had been revealed to her in a dream by Malcolm Forbes and Donald Trump as they flew around on a magic carpet. All of this was duly reported by the New York press. A day later the media realized that Taylor wasn't a lottery winner. She was actually an actress hired by Abel. The New York Daily News was the only paper not to fall for the hoax, because its reporter had recognized Abel standing in Taylor's hotel room.
Categories: Business/Finance, Pranks
Posted by The Curator on Wed Feb 22, 2006
Comments (17)
Congratulations, Cranky!

You wouldn't mind lending me a few million, would you?
Posted by Big Gary, on another quail hunt  in  Dallas, Texas, USA  on  Thu Feb 23, 2006  at  01:50 PM
Geeze Cranky, the least you could do is give Alex a cut. Then Alex could give me a cut. Then I could find some strippers or something.
Posted by Charybdis  in  Hell  on  Thu Feb 23, 2006  at  02:27 PM
Nice job Cranky
Posted by Owen  on  Thu Feb 23, 2006  at  03:01 PM
Hey, Cranky and I are homies. If he's going to give anyone the money it's me. I gave a good effort for trying to prove God's existence. So he will give to me right Cranky!!!!

Good prank though
Posted by Carter S  on  Thu Feb 23, 2006  at  05:17 PM
This sounds like an insult: "(The real winners were a bunch of meat packers.)"
Posted by Bryan  on  Thu Feb 23, 2006  at  05:51 PM
They are literally meat packers, not in any metaphorical sense. They all work at a ham processing plant. That is, they did, until this week.
Get your mind out of the gutter.
Posted by Big Gary, on another quail hunt  in  Dallas, Texas, USA  on  Thu Feb 23, 2006  at  06:06 PM
"Meat packer"... would that the derogatory term homosexuals use for heterosexual men?
Posted by Citizen Premier  in  spite of public outcry  on  Thu Feb 23, 2006  at  07:26 PM
Yes, they are literally workers in a meat packing plant; that wasn't a gratuitous reference to gayness. I didn't see them on TV when they picked up their prize but I gather they were less than scintillating personalities (not that that makes them bad people).

I'm still getting interview requests in connection with this thing, by the way. This morning I was on Johnathan Brandmeier's radio show out of Chicago (during which I think I mentioned this site) and KPAM from Portland, Oregon (they like the local angle, as I'm currently living on the coast in Oregon). Everyone's been great about it and has said that they think it was a funny gag.

There's also going to be an article in the Des Moines, Iowa newspaper this Friday. I'm looking forward to reading it.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Thu Feb 23, 2006  at  08:20 PM
Harmless, and still funny. I love this sort of prank.
Posted by Maegan  in  Tampa, FL - USA  on  Thu Feb 23, 2006  at  10:40 PM
Hey Cranky, is there a TV interview in the near future?

I also like your Odor Radio thing that you pulled on listeners when you were a Morning DJ. That was awesome too.
Posted by Carter S  on  Thu Feb 23, 2006  at  11:09 PM
Well, Carter, I was on Good Morning, America this past Tuesday, although it wasn't exactly an "interview." It was tape of me pretending to be the winner, but it still counts, right?

Hey, how did you hear about Odoradio (R)? Did I tell you about that? Yeah, I set up a thing where I said I was broadcasting smells over the air (I had a convincing explanation of how it supposedly worked). My boss said it was the stupidest thing he had ever heard--until I started getting calls from listeners who were convinced they could detect the smells I was "transmitting." I never revealed on the air, by the way, that it was a hoax. Let 'em wonder, I say.

Yes, Maegan, it was harmless and funny. That was the intent. One radio station asked me if I felt guilty about having fooled the people in the restaurant. I said no. Hey, they got a free meal and a story to tell for the rest of their lives! I compared it to a magic trick. After all, a magician doesn't REALLY make the deck of cards disappear; he just makes you THINK it disappeared. I wouldn't have agreed to participate in anything that was hurtful to innocent people.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Fri Feb 24, 2006  at  04:55 AM
I seem to remeber a guy in the UK a couple of years ago who also turned up a restaurant claiming to be a lottery winner, and bought everyone dinner. There were a few sightings of him, and a natioanl newspaper launched a campaign to find the lucky guy.
It transpired however that he was actually an armed robber who liked spending his ill gotten gains.
Something you'd like to tell us Cranky?
Posted by N Coby  in  UK  on  Fri Feb 24, 2006  at  07:01 AM
"I'm still getting interview requests in connection with this thing, by the way."

Hmmm, I didn't win the powerball lottery, either, but so far nobody's asked to interview me about it. I guess I need better PR people.
Posted by Big Gary, on another quail hunt  in  Dallas, Texas, USA  on  Fri Feb 24, 2006  at  03:38 PM
N Coby said:

"Something you'd like to tell us Cranky?"

Uh, I respectfully decline to answer on the grounds that it might tend to incriminate me.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Sat Feb 25, 2006  at  04:00 AM
Is Cranky's name Bob Pagani or Bob Pagano, cause in the title it's Pagano and in the article it's Pagani make up your mind!
Posted by Blood For Nothing  in  Somewhere in the Arctic  on  Sat Feb 25, 2006  at  10:48 AM
Blood for Nothing, try reading the whole article.
Posted by Big Gary  in  Dallas, Texas, USA  on  Sat Feb 25, 2006  at  12:41 PM
Don't worry, Blood For Nothing. You're not the first to correct me for misspelling Pagani. My wife told me I had misspelled Bob's name as soon as she saw the title (but before she had read the article).
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Sun Feb 26, 2006  at  12:40 AM
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