Winning the Neopian Lottery is a dream for just about anyone. Imagine, being chosen to win thousands or even millions of Neopoints. You could dine at Kelp whenever you wanted, hang out with the most elite of Neopia's citizens, vacation at the swanky AstroVilla at the Neolodge, or even relocate to a brand new Neohome in a beautiful and exotic land.
Sadly, not everyone can win the lottery. In fact, not everyone can even afford a ticket to play the lottery. Moerio the yellow Moehog is one pet that understood that better than any other. A quiet Moehog, he often expressed his thoughts better on paper than out loud. He also preferred to stay on the safe side. As much as he wanted to have a chance to win his way to luxury and wealth, he also couldn't bear the idea of seeing his hard earned Neopoints being wasted after hours of hard labor at the obsidian quarry.
So for years Moerio just worked. He completed his tiresome tasks of digging out shiny obsidian every day with his fellow quarrymen, got paid a meager sum of Neopoints, and sold any scrap fragments he could get his hands on for whatever pittances other Neopians were willing to give him. Even if his work was not enough, it had to be. It was the only option Moerio had to support himself and his elderly mother, Henrietta.
Henrietta was a loving and nurturing Moehog, but as she grew older, Moerio had to take it upon himself to care for her. So as much as he dreamed of buying a winning lottery ticket and redeeming it for a fancy new Neohome and designer clothes, he knew deep down that it simply wasn't an option. He had too many responsibilities to spend his Neopoints so frivolously on something like gambling. But one day on the quarry field, he overheard some co-workers talking.
"Hey Cabby, did you hear about this new lottery? It sounds so exciting!" said Bonsly, a green Yurble quarry worker.
"I know!" replied Cabby, the blue Krawk. "I wonder what the prize will be?"
Moerio meekly stood at the edge of their conversation, wanting to join in and ask for details about this lottery, but unable to overcome his shyness to do so.
"Whatever it is, it must be fantastic! With the amount of hype there is it sounds like the winner will get a trillion Neopoints!" Bonsly said in excitement.
Cabby chuckled. "I'm sure the prize will be great but come on, a trillion Neopoints? How can someone give away a trillion Neopoints when it is free to enter?" he replied.
Moerio perked up at hearing the word free. A free lottery? Could it really be? Could he finally have his shot at fortune? The words of the conversation were like a fishing line, slowly reeling him in closer and closer with every new detail.
Cabby spotted the intrigued Moehog and called out to him, "Hey Moe! Have you heard about this lottery?"
Startled, Moerio stood speechless. He thought to himself, if I say no they might think I live under a rock on Lutari Island, but if I say yes they could find out that I'm lying...
Before Moerio could muster up any words, Bonsly interjected, "Well, if you haven't, basically there's going to be a special lottery that is free to enter. You just have to pick your favorite number from one to a thousand."
"Not only your favorite number but the ad also said the number has to be meaningful to you. Only meaningful numbers will have a chance at winning," Cabby added. "The whole thing is still a bit of a mystery though. No one is really sure who is behind this. Some think it might just be the actual Neopian Lottery, but others think it has to be someone even richer than that, like King Hagan or the Faerie Queen."
"Whoever is behind it, I'm sure the prize is going to be insane! It will be worth entering for sure," Cabby said. "If you want to have a shot make sure you pick your number, write it down on a piece of paper, and bring it to Neopia Central by sunset for the drawing!"
Bonsly and Cabby went for their lunch break as Moerio was left to ponder about this special lottery. He hadn't even won yet but already felt like his dreams were about to come true. This was his chance, his opportunity to win big. But first, he had to pick a number. There were so many numbers to choose from though, how was he to pick what number was most meaningful to him?
The Moehog thought long and hard about it, starting at the most logical place – one. One is a good number he thought. It's the first number. He wanted to be the one winner. But so did everyone... Maybe one wasn't so meaningful to him then. He went on to two, three, four, five, six, all the way up to seventy-two. He took up half his lunch break pondering through the consecutive numbers but had gotten nowhere. He realized simply going through each wasn't going to help him find his meaningful number. He had to think of something meaningful for himself and find a numerical connection through that.
The first thing Moerio thought of was his favorite hobby of jumping rope. He then remembered that he was 739 days old when he picked up his first jump rope. It was a big day for him. He was afraid to try at first, but he built up the courage and did it and ended up loving it. It was the first fear he ever conquered and boy was he glad he did! He would jump rope every day, setting new records for himself over and over again. He even remembered his personal record that he was quite proud of – 399 jumps. These could certainly be some numbers that meant enough for him to choose for his lottery ticket.
Moerio then thought about his mother, the person he loved most in the world. The number 101 came to mind as the number of Babaa she would count with him to so he could fall asleep when he was a young Moehog. He cherished those memories and on nights when he struggles to sleep, he continues to count those Babaa to himself.
Just as the workday was ending, Moerio looked around the vast quarry he had worked for years. 80 acres of land the quarry covered. 800 pounds of obsidian he was responsible for moving a day. 60 hours a week he worked. 600 days until he was due for a raise. 600. That number peaked Moerio's interest. But he wondered if the reason was truly meaningful. 600 days away from a raise? Is that really worthy of being his most meaningful number? He wasn't even sure if it was actually 600. Maybe he was just rounding. But for some reason, Moerio was drawn to that number.
So that was it. That was number Moerio would choose to enter himself into the lottery with. His one free lottery entry for the opportunity to win would say, "600." With his ticket in hand, Moerio made his way to Neopia Central.
The gathering of lottery participants there was full of working class Neopians. They were a little tired, looked a tad messy, but none could have been more excited. But walking through the crowd, Moerio began to feel uneasy. He had focused so much on the idea of winning and trying to pick his winning number, he didn't even think about how many other entrants there would be. He gazed across the crowd that was nothing but an infinite sea of Neopians who all probably wanted to win just as badly as he did.
Despite feeling slightly deterred, the Moehog patiently waited with the rest of the crowd for the drawing to begin. The sun was setting and the time was coming. So they waited... and waited... and waited. But no one came. Nothing happened. Nightfall had hit Neopia Central and the gathering of Neopians was left cold and in the dark.
Moerio watched as the crowd around him slowly dissipated into the darkness. After several hours, he found himself alone. He stared at his hand-written lottery ticket with his number "600." He got excited over nothing. He spent hours picking a "meaningful" number for nothing. He showed up for nothing. He didn't know what else to do but wander aimlessly around the streets of the marketplace.
He eventually found himself at the Money Tree. Its branches were empty, but the tree looked happy as ever.
"What seems to be bringing you down?" the Tree asked astutely.
Moerio once again found himself speechless for a moment, but as feelings of disappointment overwhelmed him, he finally felt the urge to speak out.
"I thought there was going to be a lottery today. It was the only lottery I was ever able to play, but I guess it wasn't real. There was no prize, no winner," Moerio said grimly.
The Money Tree glanced at Moerio's hands. "Isn't that a lottery ticket you have there? If you have a lottery ticket it must have been real," it said. "The number on your ticket, what was it?"
"There were a few that I could have picked, but I chose 600. It was the number of days left until I got a raise. I guess it was something I was excited for, like the way I was excited for this lottery," Moerio said.
"You still have your raise to look forward to though, don't you? And you said you had other numbers. You still have those too," the Money Tree asked.
Moerio brightened up a bit. "You're right. I do still have them. But I guess I was just hoping for something more."
"There is always more to be had. But sometimes the greatest rewards can be found right under your nose," said the wise Tree. "What's great about the lottery is that it is unexpected. It's a surprise. But if you think about it, every day is like a lottery and the fond memories you receive are your prizes."
Moerio gazed up at the starry night sky and pondered the Money Tree's words for a moment. But as he looked back to respond, the Tree had vanished. The baffled Moehog waited for the Tree to come back, but it didn't. So he finally decided to return home to his mother.
The next morning, Moerio woke up feeling a little better about the disappointing events of the day before. He got out of bed, cooked his mother breakfast, and got ready for another day at the quarry.
Passing by a newsstand on his way to work however, the latest issue of the Neopian Times caught Moerio's eye. It was the special edition 600th issue. While browsing through the articles, Moerio spotted an announcement that the Neopian Times would be accepting submissions from new writers in honor of reaching another new milestone. The topic for the submissions would be, "My Favorite Hobby."
Suddenly, Moerio found himself bursting with excitement over the idea of having the opportunity to write about jumping rope and the possibility of getting published in the Neopian Times! He then thought to himself about what the Money Tree said to him and agreed; every day really is like a lottery. The prize may not always be a giant bag of Neopoints or rare and valuable items, but it doesn't need to be. The lottery works in mysterious ways, and in the end you are responsible for finding your own fortune.