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A magician walks onto the stage looking calm, collected, and sexy AF. They hold two books in their hand. One of the two books is about the history of lotteries and the other, more excitingly, is about how to win the lottery. After delivering a compelling speech on how impossible it is to actually win the lottery, the magician invites a spectator onto the stage.
The spectator gets to choose either of the books, and they hold their selected book clamped firmly between their outstretched hands. The magician tells them they must make one more choice. It’s an important decision.
When you play the U.K. national lottery, you can choose numbers up to 59. The spectator on stage is going to choose one random number, and they’ll have plenty of time because it’s an important decision.
It’s also a decision they’ll spend the rest of their life questioning — wondering what would have happened if they’d chosen differently.
Next, the magician turns to the audience, throwing the second book down to a random spectator near the front. They stand up, hold the book before them, as instructed, and open it to a random page and remember the page number. When they’re satisfied, they throw the book to someone else in the audience. A total of five lucky audience members do the same and are left standing up.
So that’s six random numbers selected by random audience members, and one spectator stood up on stage. I think we know where this is heading.
The audience returns the book to the stage, and the magician explains they’d already finished reading that book. It’s the other book they are yet to finish reading —the one that’s currently being held tightly by the spectator on stage.
“I haven’t read far into the book. Perhaps halfway through,” the magician says, “I keep my position in the book with a bookmark,” he pauses, “well, it’s not really a bookmark — it’s a lottery ticket.”
You hear the audience murmur as people realize what's about to happen. The magician steps towards the spectator and asks them for the first time to name the number they chose at random aloud. They name 48.
The magician gently takes the book from their grasp, and opens the book about halfway, maybe 100 pages into the book — sat there between the pages is the lottery ticket. The magician doesn’t touch it; instead, they gesture for the spectator to remove it and read the printed numbers to themself.
The spectator gasps, and then they smile.
Magician: Is your number printed on that ticket?
Magician: And what’s unique about your number?
Spectator: It’s circled with a pen.
Magician: Can you read all of the numbers aloud?
Spectator: 08, 12, 27, 48, 54, 56.
The magician addresses the standing audience members.
Magician: If you heard the number you chose, please sit down.
All five audience members sit down.
Audiences love lottery predictions, and so do I.
I love the lottery prediction, popularised by Nate Staniforth and since performed by many big-name magicians. Also, I wouldn't say I like the remote method. I’ve been there when it’s failed, and it’s sucked. My advice is to use a lovely hardwired lottery printer with an assistant and skip any kind of remote small sketchy printer.
But an assistant isn’t always available, and the backstage space isn’t always there, and my obsession with this magic effect continues. I think it’s because predicting the lottery is so goddam relatable. It’s an impossible, printed prediction. We all know how hard it is to win the lottery, and all want to win it. We all know how difficult it is to fake a genuine-looking lottery ticket.
There is a small plot hole in the concept of predicting the actual lottery. If you can really predict the lottery, shouldn’t you be a billionaire by now? But I love using a lottery ticket as a vehicle to predict the actions of an audience member. It’s a great, relatable device and it leaves the audience excited — as though the ticket they just created might win this week.
This post’s tossed-out lottery prediction is my favourite self-working method. There’s a basic version (which I believe is more than enough) and an extended one. Both rely on solid magic principles. You can perform both by yourself with confidence.
Overall, I just like the fact that a magician can pack one book in their case and perform a printed lottery ticket prediction, and even leave the real ticket with the client.