A lottery story must open with the sound of a small printer dispensing a losing ticket before introducing the viewer to someone about whom they don't really care and then forcing that stranger to invent an outlet for the hundreds of millions they almost certainly won't win.
"Buy a house, marry, have a lot of kids," one recent ticket-buyer told Fox 5 Thursday night.
"And a Lamborghini," another hopeful said. "I got to go to the dealer. I got to get me a yellow [one] and [also] a black one for my boy."
If that answer fails to satisfy us -- and it always fails to satisfy us -- we might tell you how many of a random inanimate object the winner could buy with her prize money (here on the news, computing the cost of hundreds of millions of cups of coffee is one of our favorite calculations come lottery time).
At this point in our report we must remind everyone of odds we'll describe as "long," "impossible," and "slim." We'll compare the player's chances of winning to fun things like lightning strikes and shark attacks. And then stress with a tone that says "but hey, ..." this money's up for grabs. You don't buy a ticket, your odds of winning are zero. You don't play, you can't win. You're not in it, you can't win it.
A reporter holding up a lottery ticket he purchased with his own money to show you even he -- intrepid, cautious and skeptical -- chose to play some numbers communicates just how crazy lottery fever has become.
Running out of things to say, we'll eat up time by breaking down the lump-sum versus annuity options and asking still more strangers how they picked their numbers.
"I got five kids," one Upper East Side player said Thursday, "so I picked every one of their birthdays and then my wife's birthday for the Powerball number."
We'll refer to the winning combination as "magic," the winner as "hitting it big" and then conclude with a barrage of idioms pertaining to luck: in strokes, of the draw and tried, out, into and good. To win the largest jackpot in the history of American lottery you're going to need it -- a lot more than anything you'll learn from a story like this one.