Fact Check

Fortune Cookie Lottery Win

Did a husband and wife each win a lottery by playing numbers recommended by a fortune cookie?

Published Sept. 30, 2006


Claim:   A husband and wife each won a lottery by playing numbers recommended by a fortune cookie.


Origins:   The 30 March 2005 Powerball drawing wasn't the only time a fortune cookie had been successfully used to garner a lottery windfall. A decade earlier, two of the three winners who split a $4 million Lotto Texas jackpot had used numbers suggested to them by a slip of paper found inside a fortune cookie.

Yet there was still more to the story than its mere cookieness. Those two biscuit-blessed winners were married to one another.


Turnbull purchased his ticket for the 25 March 1995 drawing in Mission, Texas, at United Drive In, selecting as his numbers the cookie-recommended combination 10, 24, 27, 29, 40, and 46. Later that day, wife Barbara Turnbull bought a batch of tickets on the same drawing at that same shop, with one of the tickets purchased also bearing that same set of digits.

Both elected to take a lump-sum settlement of $814,473 (as apparently did the third winner) rather than wait for the full $1,330,000 that would have been paid to each of them over time, which meant the Turnbulls snapped up a fast $1,628,946 for heeding the same cookie.

The double purchase worked one further bit of magic. Given that the retail outlet vending a winning ticket gets 1 percent of the proceeds, the Turnbulls' both having played the lotto at United Drive In netted that shop $26,600.

Barbara "well named shop, that" Mikkelson

Originally published:   30 September 2006
Last updated:   12 January 2015


    Austin American-Statesman.   "Husband, Wife Holding 2 of 3 Winning Tickets."

    27 March 1995   (p. B3).

    The Houston Chronicle.   "What a Fortune Cookie."

    31 March 1995   (p. A26).

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