As I was going through some of my father’s items, I found this Irish Sweepstakes ticket shoved deep into a forgotten pocket of his wallet. Lord knows how long it had been there. The date on the ticket is 1978. I would have been four at the time. I remember some hoopla over these tickets in our household, and no doubt my mom was concerned about the fact that it was illegal in the U.S., though ironically, the Irish Sweepstakes reportedly earned more revenue from America than any other country. I’m guessing Dad just had his family members slip a ticket inside a letter.
I knew as a kid that it was some kind of lottery, but I didn’t realize that part of the proceeds benefited hospitals in Ireland, much like the lottery here in Georgia benefits higher education. I guess I always thought the Irish Sweepstakes was more like a traditional raffle, but throw in the race horse element and the whole thing becomes complicated. In fact, Dad also enjoyed betting on the horses, and my mom did too. Going to the racetracks in California a couple of times a year were like mini-vacations for us. Dad never had much luck, but he would usually break even.
Of course, it was my mom that ended up having all of the luck, winning $100,000 on a scratch-off ticket. Sadly, her luck came too late for Dad and her to be able to enjoy it. Dad was already well into his dementia, and instead of using the winnings to take a vacation, the extra funds helped pay for Dad’s expensive care over the next year. Of course, we were lucky as a family not to have to wipe out our bank accounts like many families in similar situations have to do, but it is still bittersweet.