Sunday, March 25, 2012

Metro columnist Dan Casey: Lucky scratch could win you $1,000

Dan Casey is The Roanoke Times' metro columnist.



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About this time last year, Fred Baumgartner picked up his Sunday paper and found a funny little Easter egg-type scratch-off sticker on it.

He uncovered the hidden number and entered it along with his name and email address on a website, and then he forgot about it — until someone from The Roanoke Times contacted him with the news he'd won $1,000.

For the Virginia Tech history professor and his wife, Lois, that was the last chunk of money they needed for a January Hawaiian vacation that they'd been saving for.

It helped them afford two weeks on the island of Kauai, where to their utter amazement they found feral chickens running around everywhere.

Apparently a hurricane in the early 1990s had demolished all of Kauai's chicken coops, unleashing domestic birds that later multiplied into wild hens and roosters that now overrun an island where there are no natural predators.

"They were on the golf course, they were on the beach, it's really quite amusing," Baumgartner told me last week.

The purpose of relating the anecdote is to alert you to the game in which Baumgartner and some other readers scored some cash in 2011. We're doing it again this year, with sticky notes attached to next Sunday's paper.

Some lucky reader — that could be you — is once again going to win $1,000, and five others will walk away with $100. The Salem VA Credit Union is the game's sponsor.

I know what you may be thinking now. "The editors ordered Casey to pimp the newspaper!" Ha, that's untrue. None of them has said a word about it. Nor has the publisher.

I am pimping it all on my own. It was my idea, when I learned our circulation department was doing the game again.

Newspapers are in my blood. My dad was in the business, and my first job, at age 11, was delivering newspapers in northern New Jersey. I like the idea of promoting this contest, and selling newspapers, for reasons I'll further detail below.

First, here's how the game works:

You buy a Sunday paper next week, or if you're a subscriber you'll get one delivered. It'll have an Easter Egg Hunt scratch-off ticket sticky note. (Or you can pick up a ticket for free in person at the newspaper — no purchase is necessary.)

Uncover your number, then go to and log it in before noon on Friday, April 6. Then, hang on to your ticket.

Six numbers will be randomly chosen that afternoon. Five of those will be announced in the paper on Sunday, April 8. The folks who hold the corresponding tickets will each win $100.

The grand prize-winning number will be published in the paper on Monday, April 9. The holder of that ticket will win $1,000, just like Baumgartner did last year.

You must have the ticket with the winning number to collect the prize.

There's no limit to the amount of different numbers (each from a different sticky note) any individual can log in to enter the contest.

Now, as to why I'm promoting this: You can partly chalk it up to naked self-interest, and that works on different levels.

The more papers we sell, the more people read this column, and the greater the influence it has. That works whether you love or hate what you read here. Either way, it benefits me.

And in very general terms, the more papers we sell, the more money The Roanoke Times brings in. That revenue supports the salaries of hundreds of good people who work here. I benefit from that, too.

But there's another reason, and it has to do with the many readers who frequently call my desk or write emails or letters.

Many of you are pitching ideas for columns (thanks) or you want to gush about a particular column (thanks again) or read me the riot act about something I've written (thank you for that, too).

The people I meet and the stories I hear in those phone calls and read in those emails and letters enrich my understanding of this region and what's important to the folks who live here.

Those stories often wind up in this newspaper. Besides all that, it's pure fun interacting with all you readers.

I'm tickled by the notion that six of you are going to score some money from the Easter Egg Hunt game. You deserve it, because you're great.

So make sure you buy the paper next Sunday (if you don't already get it delivered to your door), or pick up a ticket here on Campbell Avenue.

Log in your numbers, then hang onto those sticky notes.

I hope you win.

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