This little piggy could make you $50,000 richer.
Or $5 poorer.
If nothing else, it will give you a whiff of bacon.
What’s up with that?
A new $5 scratch ticket from Washington’s Lottery is a bacon-scented game.
“Bring Home the Bacon” has a cute cartoon pig and porky smell.
Which makes you wonder — just who are these people who come up with this stuff?
“We internally brainstorm ideas,” said Gaylene Gray, lottery instant product manager in Olympia. “We get ideas from our vendors. They have a creative team that comes up with different ideas.”
That’s just the first step.
There’s a lot that goes into producing a scratch ticket — research, trends, accounting, packaging, delivering.
“It’s a many months-long process to bring a ticket to life,” Gray said.
The ticket with the blue-ribbon pig was developed pre-COVID-19 to promote at county fairs and other summer events.
“It’s a scented ink that is provided by our print vendor. It’s subtle until you scratch it and the scent gets exposed and gets stronger,” Gray said.
No pigs were killed in the making of the tickets. The ink does not contain animal products, nor does it smell like what you fry up on the stove.
Olfactory scientists believe the aroma of sizzling bacon is due to a mix of compounds that fill you with desire.
Lottery scientists rely on psychology, even for unscented tickets.
Themes such as Casino Nights, Ca$htastic and Ultimate Riches are devised to make tickets fun and shiny and make you feel lucky. They’re designed to pull you in, like slot machines.
“We like to cut through the clutter and make a ticket stand out to our players,” Gray said.
This isn’t the first piggy that went to market.
“In the lottery industry we borrow from each other and customize for our state,” she said.
The Indiana lottery had bacon-scented tickets five years ago, with prizes up to $10,000 and a side of “No fakin’ win bacon” for a 20-year supply of bacon, valued at $5,000. The game was a partnership with hog farmers.
New Hampshire had maple syrup scratch-and-sniffs. BBQ-scented lottery tickets were on the menu in North Carolina. Nebraska Lottery spiced it up with a $2 Hot Sriracha game. Maryland had Old Bay Seasoning scratchers.
Seems if they really want to hit the jackpot, Washington would do a cannabis-scented ticket. But they didn’t ask me.
Sometimes the lottery folks do ask for input. In 2013, the state invited people to submit their pet pics for a place on the $2 “Cats vs. Dogs” ticket.
Competition was fierce among the 1,300 entries in the online voting contest. There were photos of dancing cats in tutus and dapper dogs in bow ties.
Trouser, a Mill Creek bulldog, was one of the six chosen. His fat-faced mug, wearing a frilly jingle bell ribbon thing around his neck, was printed on 303,000 tickets.
“Our lives didn’t really change at all,” said the dog’s owner, Aaron Adolf. “We just went about our normal everyday life with a dog that was ‘local famous’ and didn’t even know it. He was a diva before the tickets.”
Scratch games bring in more money for the state than jackpot games, such as Hit 5 and Powerball. Sales were $523.9 million in fiscal year 2019 from scratch, nearly double the $279.4 million from draw games.
The lottery launched 48 scratch games in 2019. Gray was with the lottery when the first scratcher debuted in 1982.
“We had one ticket when we first started,” she said. “It was called ‘Pot of Gold’ and it was a $1 ticket.”
Tickets now go for up to $30. The $5 tickets are the most popular price point, she said.
There were more than 2.1 million bacon-scented tickets printed. The overall odds are 1 in 3.31, with prizes in a dozen increments from $5 to $50,000.
I beat the odds. I spent $30 on six tickets and won on three tickets, a total of $20. So, yeah, that meant I lost $10. Still, I got to smell the bacon even if I didn’t get to bring it home.
Where the lucky tickets are is a mystery formula of algorithms and random placement in packs distributed to the 3,598 retailers statewide.
“We do not know which tickets are winners,” Gray said. “I can’t tell you. The programmers can’t tell you. Our security department can’t tell you. Nobody can tell you where the winners are. Nobody knows.”
The lottery employs about 129 at the headquarters, warehouse and five regional offices, including one in Everett.
Offices are closed to the public due to COVID-19, so tickets over $601 must be mailed to Olympia.
That means if you win $50,000 in the bacon game, you have to trust the mail or hang onto your swine-smelling ticket until offices reopen, and hope your dog doesn’t eat it.
1. Bacon was used to make explosives during World War II:
Households were encouraged to donate their leftover bacon grease. Rendered fats created glycerin, which in turn created bombs, gunpowder and other munitions. A promotional film starring Minnie Mouse and Pluto chided housewives for throwing out more than 2 billion pounds of bacon grease every year: “That’s enough glycerin for 10 billion rapid-fire cannon shells.”
2. The average American consumes 18 pounds of bacon each year. That weight is slightly less than your average car tire.
3. Praise the bacon:
The United Church of Bacon in Las Vegas has 25,000 members.
It started as a protest by a group of skeptic and atheist friends in 2010 who wanted a real, legal church with a funny name with the same rights as mainstream religions. They sell Praise Bacon T-shirts and hoodies. And you can get married there.
4. Bacon vs. Sex:
Maple Leaf Foods, a Canadian bacon company, claimed that when men were asked to choose between bacon and sex, more than four in 10 chose bacon. When asked to rank various aromas by preference, 23% of men ranked bacon as No. 1.