My Secret Addiction To Losing Raffles

Published 4:30 pm Thursday, September 16, 2010

Walking past a colleague's desk last week, I saw a press release that grabbed me by the shoulders, spun me around, and gave a banana to the monkey on my back.

“Quit Raffle”

What a stupendous relief.

I am not alone.

Other people are addicted to raffles and need help quitting, too.

Just like me, they stuff pockets, closets, and rented storage units with raffle tickets. We never throw them away. I can look at a raffle ticket and tell you where I was when I bought it, what I had for breakfast that morning, and whether I spilled any of it on my tie.

For years I have felt shame because I never met a raffle I didn't love. None of the raffles loved me, of course. Or at least felt enough affection to let me win.

During the course of my thirty-year-plus relationship with raffles I have never even claimed a small ceramic gnome.

Nevertheless, I refuse to turn down any invitation to buy a raffle ticket, convincing myself the resolve means I'm a decent guy, willing to help non-profit organizations. Always flying from the truth like a moth from a bat.

I keep buying raffle tickets even though I never win the afghan, the trip to Kingsville or the autographed Ted T. Smedley gourmet spatulas.

But I began to worry when it became apparent that if I didn't buy a raffle ticket at least once a month I would break out with chills, sweats, and bumps that any goose would envy.

Could I be addicted to raffle tickets?

I surely wasn't addicted to prizes.

When six weeks passed in the winter of 2002 and nobody held a raffle, I began asking organizations, couples waiting in line at the grocery store, and strangers in parking lots if they would please hold a raffle and sell me a ticket.

Any raffle, no matter the cause. And, of course, the prize didn't matter because I wasn't going to win it.

A raffle addiction. Clearly. The loneliness of the suffering was acute. Nobody else in the whole world, or so I thought, was addicted to raffles because I never saw any commercials for a cure on television.

I sought help on the internet but my word search for “raffle addiction” always brought up raffle sites and I went to them, instead, once buying tickets for a raffle in Zosopageville, which isn't even a real place.

That's how bad it had gotten.

Every relative of any deposed bureaucrat in the Nigerian government would email me, selling raffle tickets if I would agree to let them borrow my personal identity information. Of course I agreed. Every time. There are now 2,362 Ken Woodleys trying locate overseas accounts in Nigeria for oil profits.

And now this chance encounter out of the corner of my eye with my colleague's desk.

“Quit Raffle.”

Sweet salvation.


A cure for my addiction and the tremendous relief of knowing others suffer as I do, that I am not some weird hybrid of addictive neuroses. Maybe I could tape a raffle ticket to my arm, like a raffle patch. Or chew a raffle ticket, as if it were Nicorette, until the urge consumes itself.

So I reach for the press release, like a drowning man reaching for something to stop him from drowning.


The equivalent of a drowning man being given a 100-pound weight and a foot-long sub sandwich.

It's not a press release for a “Quit Raffle” program.

No, no, no. Instead, it says “Quilt Raffle.”

The prize is a hand-made quilt of reversible paisley-not that it matters. The cause is noble, which always eases my conscience.

Forget the Quit Patch.

It's quilt patches forever!

Gimme seven tickets.

And meet me at the corner of High and Main tomorrow with seven more.