By Andrea Brown Herald Writer
The Martians are coming.
A mild-mannered software engineer from Monroe is responsible for the alien invasion.
Steve Jensen came up with “Life on Mars” last summer to win Washington’s Lottery “Design a Scratch Ticket” contest.
The $2 game he designed debuts Monday, with an orbital 1.2 million “Life on Mars” tickets printed.
The game has $1.4 million in prizes, including four with a $20,000 payout.
Scratch the red rocks. Find Martians. Win money.
The lottery kept Jensen’s extraterrestrial Red Planet theme, but gave it a glossy makeover. He said his original design was “more alien looking.”
“I’m not really an artist,” said Jensen, a Microsoft contractor and married father of two teenagers.
An occasional lotto player, he was checking the state lottery site for winning numbers last year when he saw the teaser for the online contest to design a scratch ticket.
“Some of the early entries were rather stupid looking,” he said.
So, he decided, why not give it a whirl?
“At the time NASA had landed their latest rover, Curiosity, on Mars,” said Jensen, a fan of “Star Trek” and “Dr. Who.”
“It took a couple hours. I knew what I wanted in my mind. I sat down at the computer, Googled for images of Mars and found one.”
He asked his friends to vote for him with the campaign promise: “If I win, I’ll buy you all a ticket.”
His design got 2,665 of 12,722 votes in the contest that had 151 entries.
Jensen’s name is displayed in the top corner of each “Life on Mars” ticket. He got bragging rites, but no cash prize out of the deal. He didn’t even get a free ticket.
The design win is actually costing him money.
“I have to buy tickets for all my friends,” he said.
Andrea Brown; 425-339-3443; firstname.lastname@example.org.