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Jolly Jackpot Winner Sonia Christmas

Several Pennsylvania residents cried FIXED recently when the Pennsylvania Lottery announced that the winner of their second chance drawing in the Jolly Jackpot had the highly coincidental name of Sonia Christmas.

On the Lottery’s Facebook page, Troy Kasick commented: “Christmas??? Seriously??? I’m guessing the February winner will be Laura Valentine of Hearts Content PA.”

We’ll take a guess that Troy has never met anyone with the surname Christmas. Since we have, we’re can’t be skeptical. Wikipedia has a decent-sized list of people with the surname on its Christmas disambiguation page. Here are a few:

  • Henry Christmas (1811–1868), was an English clergyman, man of letters, editor of periodicals and numismatist. Mr. Christmas apparently had to put up with more teasing than he could tolerate. Toward the end of his life, he changed his last name to Noel-Fearn, a combination of another word for Christmas and his mother’s maiden name.
  • Randall Norton Christmas (1920-1969) was the 28th Mayor of Miami from 1955–1957. Mr. Christmas went by the nickname Randy. His wikipedia page says “Merrie Christmas Park in the Coconut Grove neighborhood of Miami is named for Christmas’ daughter, Merrie, who died at the age of 15 in 1969.”
  • Dionte Lamont Christmas, who was born in 1986, is a basketball pro who was born in Philadelphia, PA. We don’t think the 6′ 5″ shooting guard gets teased about his name that much.
  • Karima Christmas (born in 1989) is another basketball pro in the Women’s National Basketball Association. Karima is 6 feet tall.

There are plenty of first names that no one bats an eye at these days that had their origins in the winter solstice, such as Euel, Yul, Natale and Noel. We knew an Italian-American lady once whose first name was Santa, the feminine form of Santos, meaning saint. But Canadian-American biologist and university administrator, Santa J. Ono, who was born in 1962, is a man.

So we don’t think the Pennsylvania lottery drawing was fixed. The odds of that happening must be astronomical but so are the odds of winning many of the lottery games and people do win them.  Almost makes you want to run off and change your name to a luckier one.


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