Get Free Copy

100 free copies left

This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.

0
Free copy left
You can read our best books
Mel Stefaniuk would love your feedback! Got a few minutes to write a review?
Write a Review

Hit The Jackpot

By Mel Stefaniuk All Rights Reserved ©

Drama

Hit The Jackpot

In June of 1993 I won $76,000 on the game show "Hit the Jackpot!" I hit the jackpot, as it were. This wasn't a show where they asked you tough questions or anything so it wasn't something I liked to brag about. I mostly spun a wheel and tried to fill this foam pot up with tin coins that came out of a tube. I felt bad for the guy that had to be sitting in the rafters making sure the tube didn't clog up. I once saw them pass a sandwich up to him by a bucket on a rope during a commercial break and I remember thinking it was one of the most pitiable things I had ever seen. 

My parents were immigrants so they were both befuddled and ashamed that this country awarded spinning some flashy wheel and not hard work. My father had three jobs and it still would've taken him years to make the money I did in a couple afternoons. I remember their faces when I watched the episodes with them. Mother tried to muster up some look of pride but my father slumped back on the couch and seemed to melt into the fuzzy tapioca tapestry. 

I never talked to them much after the show aired. They went back to Brazil a few months later and died when a bus t-boned their car. I had offered to help pay their rent when they were still in the States but mother politely refused.  Father wasn't so polite. I don't blame him, though. It fucks you up to see the American Dream realized as a foam pot.

I was only 21 when I won this money which is way too young for what amounts to a certain kind of responsbility. You get that much windfall from barely lifting a finger and you soon find your arms can't handle lifting that much weight. I was able to live off it for near 11 years but soon I had less than 1K in the bank and the walls start to feel like they were closing in on me. I wasn't a lazy man but my work ethic hadn't properly developed so getting a real job wasn't something that crossed my mind. My parents hadn't left me anything, which kinda proved my point about hard work being pointless, but it also put  me in a tough spot. How do you make a living when your chief skill is spinning a plastic wheel?

I tried to make a go of it on the game show circuit but the years since hitting the jackpot hadn't been too good to me. The life I eeked out of that money wasn't one that offered a lot of, let's call it, exterior living, and I began to realize how isolated a person I had become. I hardly talked to anyone. I only left my apartment to buy groceries or go to the library. I mostly just read books and watched TV and ate canned pasta. You start living your life inside your head and you eventually find out you can't get out. They don't like having people like that on TV. You're a million miles away and they see your vacant eyes and know that the camera will see right through you. 

Someone once told me I had the saddest eyes in the world. I wasn't crying or anything. I didn't even know them. That always stuck with me. 

One time I was sitting in one of these game show auditions when a guy recognized me. It was a tacky hotel conference room. Cold coffee. Stale bagels. You could smell the chlorine from the swimming pool a few halls down. He asked if I had hit the jackpot and I said that I had. He got excited and called a few more people over and soon they were all telling me about how they cheered for me back then, this poor immigrant kid who was making good on the potential that this country has to offer. I didn't have the heart to tell them about the whole "shame upon my parents" thing. 

A producer of the show came over to see what all the hubbub was about and was taken aback when he found out it was me. He had been working as a page at the network when I was on "Hit The Jackpot!" and had given me a go-get-'em thumbs up backstage once. I had no recollection of it. 

I thought the weird sense of nostalgia he had for me might get me onto this new show he was working on but I never made it past auditions. They had some fake version of the game set up and I fumbled my way through the questions until eventually I just stopped buzzing in. Weren't even real buzzers. They had gotten a few bells from the hotel's front desk. 

The producer caught me as I was leaving and said tough luck and all that. I guess he could tell I wasn't in the best of shape as he offered me a job on the show. "You've been in front of the cameras, how about a chance to see behind them?" he said. I hemmed and hawed but eventually he just said I was hired. It seemed like a fitting way for me to enter the working world.

The first time I saw it, the view from the rafters, I felt this tightening in my throat. I could see the contestants at their podiums and the host with his long-stemmed microphone and the audience cheering in their seats. All at once. Contestants always winning. Audience always cheering. I could sit there inside myself and take it all in. Every once in a while I'd have to fill an air cannon with fake money to shoot down onto the stage when somebody won big but that was all that they asked of me. I didn't even mind when they brought my lunch up to me in a bucket on a rope. 



Write a Review Did you enjoy my story? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, Mel Stefaniuk
Continue Reading
Further Recommendations

romboili000: As I read this book it made me realize the importance of trusting big God. And believing that you can love even when it feels impossible. This story definitely has made me what to become a better person in Christ and just life. So thank you that's all I have to say because you wrote this story so...

Shubh Guru: when i'm reading this novel, I remember all my school days, all i feel like i m back to my old days, all the misery come to "bay" and how she come back like a shinning star are so good...this is my first book and i love this because it contains all the thing, love ,betrayl,losing some one who lo...

jessiehs: This was absolutely amazing. I loved how it went back and forth between perspectives. I actually cried at the end I was so happy. This was amazing. I can't even think of another word to describe it. Thank you for writing his.

christylynnr5: This was such an amazing story!!! It showed newly found friendship slowly developed into love. The story never got boring and always had drama happening to keep you reading. I would defiantly recommend this to anyone who loves a good love story!

Sandra Estrada: I loved every minute of it and I thank my lucky stars that brought me to the story, it's been a whirlwind of emotions, plot twist after plot twist but I never got tired of them. Abby and Kade's story is a hard one to understand but once you're submerged in their story and love, you can't help but...

zoheusher20: What more can I say? The writing style and little details drew me into the book and for the entirety of the story I was Juliet. I felt her turmoil and emotions and every trouble or triumph as they arrived. This story was very different and had quite a few little but unexpected twists that made it...

Alkira Joan: amazing story and plot, you just need to work on re reading and punctuation and gramma .'.........................................................................................................,.,.,..,.,.,.,.,..,.,.,..,.,.,..,.,.,..,.,.,.,..,.,..,.,.,..,.,..,.,.,.

christylynnr5: This was a really good book. I couldn't stop reading it. I loved how the story had its ups and downs and it kept you on the edge of your seat. But the only thing I had a problem with was the grammar errors. I know everyone makes mistakes but this one had more than just a few. and in some places I...

Alkira Joan: I'm worried and scared but absolutely love this book please write the second one please don't leave me hanging.....,.,..,.,.,..,.,.,..,.,.,..,.,.,..,.,.,.,..',', , ,', , ',',..,.,.,.,.,..,.,,bbdbx.,..,.,.,.,..':-)''.'.'.'.'...

More Recommendations

Riskaninda Maharani: This story told about love between Christopher Schlösser (a German) and Anggia Selestina (an Indonesian) that happened in Düsseldorf, Germany in an autumn. The German autumn which was so different with the autumn in the other four season countries, especially in Anggia's eyes when her heart-movin...

Bernsigns: This is an age old story, but with excellent plot twists that I didn't see coming. I truly liked how the story slowly, but steadily revealed the secrets. There were secrets I didn't expect, which kept me wanting to read. I always love a happy ending, with a little bit of real life mixed in. Th...