You Have the Same Chance of Winning a Lottery Whether You Play Or Not

Fran Lebowitz? Herb Caen? Don Bleu? Rob Morse? Rebecca Blagrave? Liz Smith? William Deresiewicz?

Dear Quote Investigator: The probability that you will purchase a lottery ticket worth millions of dollars is miniscule. Here are two comically exaggerated quips based on this observation:

I figure your odds of winning the lottery are the same, whether you buy a ticket or whether you don’t.

I’ve done the calculation and your chances of winning the lottery are identical whether you play or not.

Commentator Fran Lebowitz has received credit for this saying. Would you please explore its provenance?

Quote Investigator: The earliest evidence located by QI occurs in a video segment dated September 18, 1985 from the television show “Late Night with David Letterman” during which Fran Lebowitz spoke about gambling to the host Letterman. The segment is available via YouTube. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

We have a lottery here in New York. I feel you have the same chance of winning a lottery whether you play or not.

Currently, Lebowitz is the leading candidate for originator of this humorous observation. The statement’s phrasing is highly variable which makes it difficult to trace. QI has not independently verified the date of the video segment.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading You Have the Same Chance of Winning a Lottery Whether You Play Or Not

Notes:

  1. YouTube video, Title: Fran Lebowitz Collection on Letterman, 1980-2010, Uploaded on January 11, 2021, Uploaded by: Don Giller, Airdate of television episode: September 18, 1985, (Date is shown at 1 hour, 45 minutes, 18 seconds), (Quotation starts at 1 hour, 51 minutes, 50 seconds of 2 hours, 30 minutes, 44 seconds) (Accessed on youtube.com on April 29, 2021) link

You Don’t Owe Prettiness to Anyone

Diana Vreeland? Fran Lebowitz? Erin McKean? Anonymous?

wonder07Dear Quote Investigator: The following cogent statement about self-ownership, integrity, and image has been shared on social media networks:

You Don’t Have to Be Pretty.
You don’t owe prettiness to anyone.

I have seen an extended version of the remark attributed to the fashion columnist and editor Diana Vreeland in a Facebook post. However, I have also seen the words credited to the writer and humorist Fran Lebowitz on Pinterest. Would you please clarify this situation?

Quote Investigator: In October 2006 the lexicographer, entrepreneur, and fashion aficionado Erin McKean composed a post about the expectations and impositions encountered in the realm of personal appearance for her blog called “A Dress A Day”. She was responding to critical comments about the stylishness of leggings. Boldface has been added to excerpts: 1

Now, this may seem strange from someone who writes about pretty dresses (mostly) every day, but: You Don’t Have to Be Pretty. You don’t owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don’t owe it to your mother, you don’t owe it to your children, you don’t owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked “female”.

I’m not saying that you SHOULDN’T be pretty if you want to. (You don’t owe UN-prettiness to feminism, in other words.) Pretty is pleasant, and fun, and satisfying, and makes people smile, often even at you.

When contacted by QI, Erin McKean stated that she wrote the passage above. A picture of the fashion maven Diana Vreeland appeared at the top of the McKean’s post, and this has led to some confusion. However, none of the words in the post were written by Vreeland. The text by McKean has been disseminated through several networks, e.g., Blogger, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Facebook.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading You Don’t Owe Prettiness to Anyone

Notes:

  1. Website: A Dress A Day, Article title: You Don’t Have to Be Pretty, Author or poster: ERIN (Erin McKean), Date on website: October 20, 2006, Website description: Features images of dresses. The subtitle of the website is “A dress, nearly every day”. (Accessed dressaday.com on June 3, 2014) link