Off Limits was tickled by the "Be Lucky AND Prosperous" Colorado Lottery handout at our local convenience store, which offers security advice for people — oh, those millions of people — who hit the jackpot. "While 99 percent of everyone you meet will be happy for you for winning a big prize, some people will see this as an opportunity to take advantage of you," the handout warns. "While it's always a good idea to be aware of your surroundings and do business only with people you can trust, these issues may become even more important now.
"Change your phone number and/or go 'non-published' — give your contact information only to close friends and family. This will significantly reduce the number of unsolicited phone calls you receive.
"Consider using a P.O. Box — many winners, especially those who win a large jackpot, find that if they change their main mailing address to a P.O. Box, they can better manage solicitations and have fewer people trying to contact them at their home or sell them something.
"Consider a security system — with your new money, you may want to purchase things you couldn't afford before, but that may leave you vulnerable. Keep your valuables and your family safe. There are many reputable security system providers....
"Unsolicited Contacts — This is a problem that sometimes affects large prize winners. Some people, knowing the name and hometown of a winner, will attempt to contact you. If you're not interested, simply tell them you don't want them to contact you again. You may also choose to join the 'No Call' list from the Federal Trade Commission. Once on that list, if you ask a company to cease contact, any further attempts to call you may constitute harassment and legal action be a remedy..."
All good ideas, but since only a tiny fraction of Lottery players ever win anything more than milk money and a lighter wallet, it might make more sense — and save a few trees — to give this advice after they've won. Then again, maybe this handout is merely a marketing ploy designed to stoke the dreams of the non-P.O. Box-owning masses.
But Lottery spokeswoman Kristen Shew insists the fliers are an "educational tool." Although they used to be available only at claims centers, the Lottery began distributing them to all 2,900 of its retailers this fall. People who win, and even those who don't, have a lot of questions, she says, and "we wanted to present them with information before they have to make big decisions, rather than afterward. We think of it as consumer protection."
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Don't bet on it.
Scene and herd: The city held its first official celebration of Kurt Vonnegut Sunday, but it shouldn't be its last. Local celebrities — or what passes for them in this town — gathered at the LoDo Tattered Cover to read snippets of Vonnegut's work. Fans did the same, and then Mayor John Hickenlooper told the audience how Vonnegut discovered that the Denver brewpub owner who was making a beer in the author's honor (back in 1996, Vonnegut had an art show at the 1/1 Gallery just down the street from the Wynkoop Brewing Company) was the son of one of Vonnegut's fraternity brothers at Cornell University: John Hickenlooper Sr., who'd died when his son was just seven. Vonnegut later added a version of this encounter to a new edition of Timequake — and the future mayor added it to his growing stash of Looperian lore.
Hick got another one for the collection when the Economist, that usually staid British weekly, offered up a gushy valentine to Denver's mayor. Titled "The Dream of Hickenlooper," the November 3 piece started with this: "Overshadowed by the mighty Rocky Mountains, Denver is often ignored. This upsets the city's leaders, who want locals and visitors alike to recognise Denver as one of America's great cities. And there they can boast of some progress."