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With Luck on the Line

With Luck on the Line
August 11
14:10 2020

Luck on the Line

By John Christian Hopkins

Clint Eastwood

What would Ivory Thompson’s answer be if Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry character asked her “Do you feel lucky, punk?”

Well, it depends on the day.

Thompson said she has days when she just feels lucky. The one such day was July 25.

When she got out of work that Saturday, she stopped at the Alamance Food Mart, in Greensboro, N. C., and bought a $20 lottery ticket. When she scratched off her Millionaire’s Club ticket she found that she had just joined the club.

Thompson won $4 million.

Luck is a hard thing to prove.

Just ask Elisha Gray. What? You’ve never heard of Elisa Gray?

Surely you’ve heard of his invention – the telephone.

Back in 1876 Gray and Alexander Graham Bell were battling each other to be the first to invent the telephone. Gray figured it out and submitted his application for a patent first.

So why do people think Bell was the inventor?

Sometimes you have to make your own luck.

Italian inventor Antonio Meucci had sent his idea for a telephone to the president of Western Union in 1874. Unable to get a meeting with WU president William Orton, Meucci asked for his materials back only to be told the items were “lost.”

Two years later Bell sought a patent for the telephone.

According to legend, Bell bribed the clerk in the Patent’s Office to get a peek at Gray’s application. Realizing he had made an error, he hastily scribbled information from Gray’s application onto his own and then made sure that his application would be the first one on top of the pile.

With the telephone becoming one of the world’s most important inventions you would think Bell was well on his way to becoming a kazillionaire.

You’d be wrong.

Bell gave this wife, Mabel, all but 10 of his shares in the Bell Telephone Company as a wedding present. Mabel then signed a power of attorney with her father making him president of the phone company.

The telephone itself did not earn Bell a profit until 1887, two years after the Bell company joined Western Union in creating the American Telephone and Telegraph company (AT&T).

And Ivory Thompson, you ask?

She opted for the lump sum, $2.4 million. After taxes she took home $1.6 million.

Now tell me, do you feel lucky, punk?

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