Fortune Cookies & the Lotto Whisperer

You know this stuff can’t be real but you check it out anyway, just in case. If my fortune cookie prophecy is correct, things are about to look up.


I go to a hair salon where the stylist is a solo practitioner, meaning it’s just him and his chair and while clients lounge on a nearby couch to wait their turn. One weekend while there, my stylist suggested he order lunch, and we all made our selections while he DoorDashed a local Chinese restaurant. Gathered at the bottom of the big take-out bag were the fortune cookies for each of us, and unless someone had mentioned divvying them out I would have forgotten to break one open.


You will take a chance in the near future, and win.


Now that sounds fun. Of course, the likelihood that this is an apt prediction is small and the fact it is generically written so that I can apply it to any ‘win’ adds to its illegitimacy.  However, I have tacked it on my cork board at work, again just in case.


What if a fortune from a cookie could predict a change in your life?


It actually happened to Ronnie Martin of Pennsylvania. He recently won $1 million in a lottery using numbers from a fortune cookie he opened years ago. Mr. Martin is a regular lottery player, and instead of choosing birthdays (of which I am guilty) or other significant dates, he chose to trust in the numbers from that fortune cookie. I did say it had been years ago that he actually got that cookie and little slip of paper, but he liked the numbers on it and stuck with them. They finally paid off last month.


Who exactly writes these predictions in the first place? One of the most prominent fortune writers just retired. 


Wonton Foods bills itself as the largest manufacturer of fortune cookies, and Donald Lau served as its Chief Fortune Writer for 30 years, retiring only last year due to writer’s block. Lau says he used to write 100 fortunes a year, but once that number dwindled to only two or three a month he decided it was time to step down. He still works at the company while James Wong, a nephew of the company’s founder, has taken over as cookie bard.


Lau may have been better at his job than authorities felt comfortable with, since in 2005 the company was investigated after 110 Powerball lottery players won about $19 million after using the numbers on the back of its fortunes. No charges were filed, but after more than 100 people have won the lottery based on these numbers it may be time to take those digits more seriously.


What if believing in a fortune allows a self-fulfilling prophecy to work? Is it any different than looking at a horoscope or getting your palm read? I say if it makes you get excited about your life, go for it, since that tends to be a struggle for some of us lately.  You know, all of the sudden I’m getting a craving for some Moo Goo Gai Pan.