Nick Perry, longtime broadcaster who became infamous for his role in fixing the Pennsylvania Lottery’s Daily Number drawing nearly 23 years ago, died Tuesday April 22 in Pittsburgh. He was in his 80s.
His broadcasting career began on WPIT radio in 1949. Until his infamous stint hosting the Daily Number telecasts, Perry was best known as the host of “Bowling for Dollars” on WTAE-TV.
Perry was host of the Daily Number while the drawing was on WTAE, and when, on April 24, 1980, the number ‘666’ came up. That drawing had a then-record payout of more than $3.5 million, including $1.18 million that went to eight people in on the scam.
A state grand jury later charged Perry as the mastermind of a scheme to fix the drawing by injecting paint into some of the pingpong balls. The paint made all but the ‘4’ and ‘6’ balls too heavy for them to be pushed up the lottery machine tubes and into the winning slots. Perry was convicted in 1981 and spent two years in state prison and another year in a halfway house near his Pittsburgh home.
The fix prompted lottery officials to revamp security. Twenty years later, Hollywood released a movie loosely based on the scandal, “Lucky Numbers,” starring John Travolta.