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Cartoon Tuesday: It’s (Not) Funny Because It’s True

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This AM New York cartoon, currently making the rounds on e-mail, was surely a ridiculous exaggeration when first published in 2004. But it's not as far off the mark today. As the Times reports, Florida is the latest state to start giving away free "gas for life" as a lottery prize. And though the jackpot, in reality, is $2,600 in prepaid gas cards every year until the winner's death, some Floridians say they would prefer that prize to the game's $250,000 cash payout, regardless of which would actually be more valuable.

"If gas keeps going up and up - and I expect it will - then I'd rather have free gas for life," said Robert Acosta, who spends about $50 a week on fuel for his four-cylinder Toyota Scion and bought a $5 Summer Cash ticket in anticipation of the first drawing, this Wednesday.

Were the 44-year-old Mr. Acosta to win, and live to be twice his current age, the total payout to him in free gasoline would be $114,400. That is far short of the first prize, particularly since virtually all the gas prize would be paid in future dollars.

But with a gallon of unleaded regular in South Florida costing an average of about $4.30, some players are ready to forgo the math.

"Gas has become more precious than cash now," [lottery retailer] Bernard Feldman said.

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