“Our crew members were so excited last time,” co-CEO AJ Kumaran told The Washington Post. “So we decided to try our luck again. And now we’re all just excited, waiting and crossing our fingers for a win.”
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The jackpot has a cash payout of $648.2 million. If a ticket purchased by Raising Cane’s is a winner, CEOs will split the sum evenly among their employees, meaning workers will receive nearly $13,000 each — a welcome extra bit of cash amid the uncertainty of a changing job market, inflation and fears of a recession.
“Look, I hear from our crew members all the time, and things are really tough out there,” Kumaran said. “Whether they’re pumping gas or buying groceries, they feel it and it’s hard. So this was an opportunity to have fun, but at the same time hopefully make a little extra money for our people.”
Still, some have questioned the managers’ decision to throw more money at a game with little chance of winning.
“You spent $100,000 on tickets and lost, and you’re going to do it again? Why not give the money, give $200,000 to your employees?” CNN’s John Berman asked Kumaran during an interview Wednesday.
A quiz about your lousy chances of winning the Mega Millions
Kumaran replied that the purchase the raffle was “actually about more than money.” The decision to split the potential gains reflects “taking care of each other [and] stand by each other like a family, he said.
He told The Post that the idea of buying lottery tickets really came down to “doing the right thing” for employees — and having a little fun with it.
“I don’t think of it as $100,000. It’s really $2 per crew member,” he said. “And if you think of it that way, it’s only a couple of dollars. They work very hard every day and we do this so they can have fun and test their luck. So I feel good about doing that.”
Kumaran also pointed to $200 million in raises the company has paid its employees over the past two years. Raising Cane announced last year that it would increase wages by around 15 per cent for most employees.
The lotto idea started last Thursday, when Mega Millions announced that its jackpot had swelled to one of the largest in the game’s history. That’s when Kumaran suggested that Raising Cane’s buy the tickets. However, the company’s general counsel was less than enthusiastic about the idea, he said.
Undeterred, Kumaran tapped his co-CEO and founder, Todd Graves finance the tickets out of your own pocket. “We thought, ‘Okay, let’s do it as soon as possible, because how hard can it be to print 50,000 tickets?'”
As it turns out, quite difficult. Between getting the cash needed from four different banks and visiting two 7-Eleven convenience stores in Dallas to print the tickets, the plan turned into a 10-hour operation on Monday.
“Let me tell you, it’s nerve-racking to be at a gas station with $100,000 in cash,” Kumaran said.
He munched on a hot dog as the orange-and-white tickets were slowly printed. Twice the machine had to be refilled — which usually happens “every two months or so,” Kumaran said the gas station manager noted. Meanwhile, other customers complained about the machine being taken hostage.
However, the gut was of no use – although it did help Kumaran find a way to streamline the process for his next attempt on Wednesday. That day, instead of walking around town with stacks of cash, he was able to wire $100,000 to 7-Eleven. The eight-hour wait to print the tickets was still the same.
Friday night, a small crew of Raising Cane employees will scan all 50,000 tickets to see if anyone can break Mega Millions’ streak of 29 consecutive drawings without a winner — a long-awaited rollover that has inspired both “jackpot hunters” and serious gamblers to throw down their money.
Only four jackpots have been hit this year, with the last one – worth around $20 million – won on April 15 in Tennessee.
The odds of winning Good Friday are about 1 in 303 million – the odds of having a toilet-related injury or being named a saint are significantly higher.