Kate Airey of The Maryland Lottery talks about 50 years of games and colors and bringing those old “Wishbone” memories back to life with Nestor
lottery, games, ticket, wishbone, people, play, maryland, march, 50th anniversary, years, ravens, costas, kate, win, john, jackpots, life, part, city, couple
Kate Airey, Nestor Aparicio
Nestor Aparicio 00:00
Looking back at W and S, T, Towson, Baltimore and Baltimore positive this is going to be a fun one. I know everybody sort of knows I’m a little bit on respite right now. Definitely do it a whole bunch of radio row it’s radio row month here in 28 years where the Super Bowl interviews and Hall of Famers and lost interviews forgotten interviews Things You Didn’t Know About but you found out a Baltimore positive we’re gonna be taking their Ella crabcakes we’re back out on the road march 3 We’re back at drugs city even though I’m wearing Mike this is brand new cost is I’ve never worn this from before on the set side. So I got the white Costas now to get away from that Steelers thing going on with the black and gold. We’re gonna be a drug City on March 3, my dear dear Middle School musician, teacher friend, my fair lady companion is now 81 years of age, Calvin state and will be my guest, as well as some others join other Dundalk legends. Joining us a drug city show brought to you by the Maryland lottery, we will be getting ourselves out on the 50th anniversary trail I will have see I have these. These are the scratch offs. And this is gonna be the topic I have ravens here and I have a holiday cast drop. But we’re going to have the new 50th anniversary. It’s also brought to you by window nation 866 90 nation you buy two you get two free, and you get two years of free financing as well. So make sure you tell him I sent you and we’ve had a nice nice winter here. But as I’m laying low here in February, trying to like sort of regroup and re gather and doing radio row month and I am mixing some pleasures in and one of them is the old wishbone and the old lottery every time I go over to the lottery, headquarters HQ. I stopped by row focus right across the street to Washington Boulevard. But every time I go up, they lead you out of this elevator in the old monkey wards. And you walk down the hallway and there’s all these cool cool old posters that I remember from East Point liquors when I was a kid going in with my parents and walking by and through all of the eras of lottery and I’ve always thought that’s cool. I’ve been I’ve taken 100 selfies in front of that wall over the course time. And this is the year and John Martin is sworn to me they’re bringing it back 50 years mirror lottery Kate airy, and she has been highly recommended by John Martin as being fun and this one because she’s not only doing all the backdoor lottery stuff that we need to know about learning about all these incredible products and 50th anniversary, but also Ravens fan as well. We welcome you in you’ve ma John has rolled out the carpet to three weeks now because he knows that I’m intellectually curious about what goes into making the snowman, the snowman and the Raven bird the Raven bird. So welcome aboard. It’s good to have you here.
Kate Airey 02:45
Thank you for having me. It’s a it’s a pleasure. I’ve been looking forward to this
Nestor Aparicio 02:49
one. Nobody ever asked you about this stuff, right? Like you’re the person I said to my wife. I’m like, she’s the one like when they do the monopoly this or they do the the, you know, branding that or I remember back in the day, we had three stooges branding and all sorts back with scratch offs. We’re still like sort of in their, you know, infancy all of these products now and apps and my wife plays jackpots. And whenever I give these away and I’ll be giving away a drug city also on the eighth we’ll be back at fade Lee’s in Lexington market break taking the Maryland crab cake tour back out on the road getting hungry thinking about it. When I give these away people when or when they don’t when they scratch and their app, and people are up on seconds. They know what’s going on. But at the end of the day, there is something about branding that brings it all together. And there’s a reason you want to work with the Ravens work with the Orioles and work with but this is your own branding. This is like internal, like sort of what I’ve been doing here for 31 years isn’t aren’t we cool? Isn’t this like cool? The Maryland lottery Right?
Kate Airey 03:48
Very cool. Yes. And you’re exactly right. You know, there’s a lot of reasons we want to partner with the fabric of the community, right, the ravens, the Orioles, but we the lottery were also the fabric of the community been around for 50 years. You can’t think of Maryland or think of winning without thinking of Maryland lottery. And the wishbone logo happens to be my favorite nostalgic logos.
Nestor Aparicio 04:08
Ah, see, I knew we’d be fast friends.
Kate Airey 04:13
Right. But I just I think the wishbone is not just nostalgic, right it. It’s representative of luck. So for me someone who’s superstitious both in lottery and in sports. I like the logo that represents luck makes me feel lucky.
Nestor Aparicio 04:32
Okay, so give everyone your background because I always like to paint this through the years as far as how long someone’s been involved with an association or passion or people ask me how far do you go back with the Orioles? So I said are the Ravens I’m like, can I go back to the Colts? Right so like, you know, but for the Maryland lottery I’m a kid from Dundalk. I born in 1968. The lottery was obviously born in 1973. And I sort of remember I don’t remember a time when there was no lottery, but I sort of you know I had Italian on goals and whatnot. We’ve talked about book around here in the bookmaker salad and mobile sports wagering and how all of this has gotten so much mature as an industry, right. And I remember the numbers in the neighborhood back in the 70s, where all of our neighbors Miss Ed, I always say anytime I could bring Ed Eliot up the great late, great Edith Elliot, my neighbor from four doors down, she played lottery every day of her life, you know, sent the kids up to the Nino’s, they wouldn’t you know, wouldn’t sell them. She had to go like the whole deal. Right? And, I mean, it was a you said fabric like, Hey, I got news for you not down in the Ravens. But y’all been around longer than ravens happen, right. So so can you give me your background and coming into the because I come into that building to pick up tickets for giveaways, and I’ve known Ross for a million years. I’ve know John, like, you know, everybody around there. I mean, I go back to body new body, right. I mean, buddy, wriggle room, right? So I’ve been doing this a long time. But when I go in there, you know what I’m talking about when you get off the elevator. And every logo you’ve ever had an old posters from probably pre lat last century, right? It’s yeah, your archives are sitting there for whomever got Kate’s job, you can go through it. But it sounds to me like you’ve been at this a long time with the lottery. So part of this is also baked into things you remember when you were maybe a kid and we don’t want to say that for playing but for all of your lifetime. You’ve seen these images if you’re from this area?
Kate Airey 06:27
Absolutely. Absolutely. So I’ve been with a lottery for 15 years. I started when I was 10. No, just kidding. But I went to University Maryland College Park and I actually majored in communication and rhetoric. I thought it was going to be speech writer. And
Nestor Aparicio 06:43
I saw that on your resume. What? Rhetoric? Yeah, I majored in that for 31 years. And
Kate Airey 06:51
you know, I thought I was right around DC, I thought I wanted to be a speech writer. But by the time I graduated college, I was so sick of politics that I wanted nothing to do with it. And funny story, my husband, his aunt, actually was an avid lottery player, and she found the job posting told me I should take a shot. And it never would have occurred to me to work for the lottery, you know, that’s the secret sauce, it’s behind the scenes, you just never think about what goes into it. But like I said, I’ve been here for 15 years, the longest I’ve ever been at a job before. This was four years, I worked for a newspaper, I was a reporter. And this is the perfect blend of right brain left brain data and analytics and creativity to keep me occupied and challenged. And I mean, I make games for a living that sometimes make people rich, what’s not to love about that? Right? It’s, it’s awesome. And I absolutely remember, you know, that it could be used song. And you know, all of the old advertising that is is no more. But I still sing it at my desk sometimes because it’s it’s like I said, part of our community. It’s part of our shared collective memory. And I like to think that some of the things I’m doing today are becoming the shared collective memory of tomorrow, right? So it’s really important to me when I put these programs together, that they’re not just creating winning opportunities, but they’re memorable, winning opportunities and memorable programs that you know, your kids and your neighbor’s kids will remember when, when they’re old enough to play.
Nestor Aparicio 08:22
So I always give these away one at a time, right? And they’re seasonal. And I’ve been with the lottery three years now, a bit over 30 years, we’ve given tickets way back in the 90s. You know, back when y’all were out on Reisterstown Road, you’re a part of that operation, probably back then. Right? I actually came right after that. Okay, well, fair enough. I mean, I said I go back a long time I’ve been doing this. And this is the first time ever and that was only a couple of events I did in January, because I did a lot of cracked it’s 31 crab cakes in 31 days in August, I run around a lot for the lottery and weekends and shows and all over the state literally. And I sort of slowed down here and we’re getting back out I will against it will be a truck city on the third. I might be wearing my Costas in shirt because I wear my truck city shirt to cost us. And on the eighth we’ll be at fadeless at LAX in the market. The old market, there still fails is still in the Old Market, come on by and see us. And I give these away. And I was out in January. And I just happened. You know, I said to John Ross, I have a few of these left. And these were left and I’m like, This is what I have. We’re gonna get away because I want to get the wishbones, right. I’m waiting for March and you know, for all of the new tickets, which is how you happened, because I think we just got into this only conversation a couple weeks ago. And this is the first time ever that I’ve had two different tickets. So the last couple shows I did. I went up to people and I was like which one do you want? You know, I was at GNA a Coney Island over and it was interesting to see there was a there was a woman in a Ravens jacket to pick the holiday ticket. Yeah, so it’s interesting as to where people’s minds are as to what’s a fun game or what’s because at the end In a day, you know, you can not know how to play the game and scratch and just hit the app. And we always recommend that anyway because you have more chances to win. But when you’re putting these things together starts soup to nuts about your involvement in this and obviously things like the ravens, and he’s in there about colors and birds and like wood and but the the how the game is played and occupies you to see whether I win or not. Because I do see people a little confused by the games from time to time, because you kind of have to, you have to figure it out. It’s walking into the carnival and saying, How do I play the game? And then how do I navigate Oh, look, I won. And then when you see people win 50 bucks, which I’ve done a lot, it beats other lines of work. It is really cool when people win. And I’m like, and they think I gave the ticket. But it’s cool, you know, you can take credit for playing?
Kate Airey 10:49
Well, you know, we want our games to be intuitive. So we want the objective is for them to be fun and exciting and grab someone’s attention. But I want someone to be able to look at the game. And pretty much guess how you can play I don’t want someone to have to study the play instructions before they scratch it and play it right. But you know, certain price points, like our $3 price point is our extended play price point. So those games that are $3 price point, you can bet that when you buy those, they’re going to have a little more play value. So those are bingos, crosswords, or games that take a little longer to play and find out if you won. So the draw for those players isn’t just finding out if they won, it’s actually the play action itself. It’s the game itself. But
Nestor Aparicio 11:34
like my wife was Wordle every night, you know, there’s no reward there. But if she could get it into and make 10 bucks, that would really be something
Kate Airey 11:42
that’s bragging rights, too, right? Yeah, that’s, that’s the hot word game of the moment. But for the most part, at our other price points outside of the $3 price point, we stick to key number match a lot of the time, which is where there’s a bank of numbers at the top and a bank of numbers under the your numbers area that you have to match. That’s just very intuitive. Very, pretty much any player can match numbers against numbers. The other really popular play style that we do is a symbol match where there’s a bank of symbols, and you’re matching against other symbols. Just that’s a little more whimsical.
Nestor Aparicio 12:15
I don’t see emoji well. So I needed to say $2 or $5, usually, around my scratching my head saying, you know, yeah, hard about some things. But some things I can be, you know, box rocks, like literally right?
Kate Airey 12:29
Well, you know, we want to make our games, like I said, intuitive, but easy enough that anybody can play them. But I agree some lottery games are a little more intimidating than others, particularly on the draw side. Quinoa and racetracks, I know can be a little intimidating for people who aren’t familiar with how to play those. But the nice thing about scratches, the aesthetic of the pretty colors. And the flashy, sparkly, this at the at retail really encourages impulse buy, and it’s it opens us up to a new player. Because even if you don’t know how to play lottery, if something catches your attention, and you’d like how it looks, you could still try it. And then hopefully you have a winning experience and you play for life.
Nestor Aparicio 13:06
Kate Aires here, she’s here to make products that you want to play for life, the 50th anniversary, I would hold up the wishbone thing, but I don’t have any of those because they’re coming soon. And on March 3, I will be back on the Maryland crabcake tour data drug city then again on the eighth it fails and a whole bunch of dates and I’m adding and putting into March and April and May there’ll be crabcakes. And there’s there’s a rumor that I’m doing oysters for my 31st anniversary in in August on the 25th anniversary wn s t so stay tuned on that I’m looking for new recipes and new ways to Rockefeller and stew and and raw and shock and do all that kind of stuff as well. For 50th anniversary. John had been talking about this couple years ago and I know I had taken a funny selfie in that hallway. And I talked about the wishbone and I guess the weirdest part for me and the neatest part of nostalgia in any way is when you haven’t seen it in a while. And I’ve done this on like Houston Oilers, like an old oiler fan and that Derrick kind of like the you know, sort of the stick figure of Derek and a stick figure, wishbone, these simple, simple images, you know, and I talk art around here sometimes when I had my old art teacher Joyce buchi on but it but branding is simple Purple and orange in a city right like things that I’ve done. And this Costas logo with the baseball logo, it all throws you to something else and another time. I don’t think it’s hard. But if you are a 25 year old person, I think there is something about the wishbone that may not be nearly as nostalgic as it is to somebody me or even older than me who actually played it because I think it was probably gone before I was old enough to play maybe I think it feels like it was there forever. But when I was in that hallway, I had seen it in like forever, forever and ever and ever. And now you’re bringing it back and I think you’re hoping that people may have to say A Mojo about it that I have or you have. But this has been something that’s years in the making. And I know John have been talking about it for a long, long time. And when did you get started on said 50th anniversary project and saying wishbone, Nestor will like that, so we’ll ever so we’ll miss Ed, if she was still here. You know?
Kate Airey 15:19
Let’s see, we’ve been I’ve been working on anniversary initiatives for a little over two years. Now. I know, that’s crazy that it’s an early they’re about to launch. But yeah, about two years now. And, you know, in our industry, like most industries, it’s always about what’s new, what’s coming down the pipeline, what’s the next innovation that our vendors are bringing to us? So when it’s always about that hustle and that urgency of what’s next and want to be the first and want to be cutting edge, when you get to revisit something a classic, if you will, it’s so refreshing. And it’s actually the first ever incident ticket that the lottery ever produced was in 1976. And it was called instant when we took that design and rebooted it for this wishbone ticket. Instant lottery.
Nestor Aparicio 16:05
So I’m playing the same game that my parents brought home and 76 I asked John, this is silver stuffs to really get stuck on your nails the way it did back in the 70s. Yeah, it does. And I’m like, Come on, man. You know, I know it’s not as common as it used to be. I mean, he used to get to get everywhere, right? We were it?
Kate Airey 16:25
Yeah, you know, it’s it’s designed to strip away from the play area, but not stay there and congested because you need to see if you’ve won, but it has to be sticky enough that it’s still secure. Right? I don’t remember back
Nestor Aparicio 16:39
at 76. They made those quarters if you rub too argued scratch off the thing. And there was no digital. So you’re always like, easy, easy on the scratching. Yeah, you know, but but for for you to bring that back. I mean, that’s an amazing, and it’s an amazing story. So it’s the same game. Same. You found the old tickets, then they just Yeah, we have
Kate Airey 17:00
a couple of them. There was actually a framed one in our old director of communication, Carol, she just retired in December. But she had a framed one of this old ticket instant lottery. And we scanned it in sent it to our vendors had our vendors kind of use this as an art project where they submitted designs to us. It’s slightly different. So the original was only an inch and a half wide, it was very skinny. And this ticket is a four by four. So it’s a square. The original ticket was also $1. This new ticket is $2. And we’re offering more robust prizes a better price structure than the original and there’s a second chance contest that’s slightly different. The original how to collect and win contest that was actually mail in you mailed in, you collected letters and mailed and complete sets of letters. Where you know, that’s a little antiquated. So we decided to go in a different direction. And it’s just a enter non winning tickets into my lottery rewards for a chance to win different prizes. We have five prizes of $10,000 in that second chance contest in five different drawings that span from March 14 all the way to June 6 is the last second chance drawing for that product.
Nestor Aparicio 18:12
Kate airy has been promised to be great guests. You mentioned the great Carol Gentry. I mean, she you know, I’m gonna miss having her around after all these years and so many folks come to the lottery stay a long time. It’s such an interesting industry in that I don’t know how you move laterally from there to some. I mean, it’s it’s very specific, I guess what it is. And so I’ll just say that I’ll tell this story because it involves a Hollywood casino another one of our partners we just signed up with I was up at barstool for Super Bowl, and I ran into a buddy of mine. I let him be nameless because he prefers to be off the internet. But he’s a lifer cop, 29 years, he teaches the Academy’s brothers, one of my best friends in the world. And we just happened upon each other. And we’re like in the buffet getting some food before the game. And he’s like, he’s like the next job I get he says it’s a cop. All you do is deal with people with everybody’s hurt injured complaint. You’re just it’s great. And it’s but it’s a life of dealing with good places. Next place I want to be I want and I said oh, I got the place. I said I do the lottery thing. All they do is give money away. I said everybody who walks in, there’s like, friggin happy. They’re there to cash a huge check. And I said, let’s get to be like the happiest place in the world where you guys work, right?
Kate Airey 19:21
Yeah, it’s pretty great. I’m not trying to brag or anything, but I have an awesome job. It’s an incredible place with incredible people. We all work very, it’s very intense, but it’s a labor of love. Because like I mentioned earlier, we make games that sometimes make people rich that’s so exciting and so fun to you know, produce a game, release it into market and then have a winner come into our winner’s circle and give them a big check for the game I just made. I mean there’s there I can’t think of anything better. You know,
Nestor Aparicio 19:53
I mentioned this to John and it’s probably was like what it was 1,000,000,002 It’s been that a couple of times with jackpots with Mega Millions And Powerball every time I wasted the ROFO at the wise, I wore the cost this and I want to go back to one, one last thing about those tickets in the machines. But I you know, I said that John I brought the billion to up and it was it was ticking off at that time. And I I’ve known John a little while and I didn’t realize how competitive the state lotteries are when it gets to that level that you really want to see that ticket sold and Leonardtown or Saulsbury or Westminster or Baltimore or Dundalk or Costas or wherever, right? Like, there really is a part and and there is a bigger thing about taxing in the state and, and it’s it’s better for our state to have jackpot winners than not, but competing against every state of Washington was the big winner a couple of weeks ago and but you wake up and you find out where it is. But in your building, it’s like you really want to like you know, get the TV trucks out somewhere in Reisterstown and say we got a billionaire somewhere here, right?
Kate Airey 21:00
Oh, yeah. I remember. We had a Powerball big jackpot winner a couple years ago the Three Amigos they were three public school teachers and the hype waiting for them to come in. There was media camped out in our building for like a week ahead of time. Just trying to stop people coming into the building, hoping it was the winners. They were smart enough that they didn’t alert anyone and you know, the media camped outside didn’t get pictures of them or anything. But um, it’s a frenzy. And it really is. And it’s a frenzy we’re glad to have.
Nestor Aparicio 21:29
Well, I mean, we’re creating miracles in memories. We’ll be doing some more of that out of the Maryland crabcake tour. Kate airy has promised me the cool tickets, and I got this new costume shirts first time I’ve worn it. Like I went to dinner night before the Super Bowl out there got some Oysters Rockefeller, I felt like a like a millionaire myself right? At cost this but the machines and the products you make, and these tickets and the colors and the games and gold and you have seasonal and we’re about to roll out a whole 50th anniversary thing that it is amazing to me now how ubiquitous they are. How in front of the places that they can sit in the corner and I said this, like a cigarette machine used to we’re a pinball machine used to or Pac Man Machine that that it takes up some space, but it makes playing easy. And the lines and Miss Ed sending everybody out when you know when when lotto got over a million dollars we had a lot you know, it took three hours to get a ticket people were driving to Shrewsbury when we didn’t have the games in our state. I remember all these friends, he’s because I’m local. But I would say that the ease of doing this now and having machines and you just put it and you can pick whatever you want. You get a lot of information back as to what colors people want, what games they want to play, what they’re into whether they love the wishbone as much as you want. I love the wishbone, you’ll find that out soon, right.
Kate Airey 22:53
And I certainly hope that they love it as much as I do. And as much as you do, I think they will because the game is not only fun to play, but we stacked it with the second chance contest. And it’s just, it looks so different from the very modern. And just, you know, the look and feel of the majority of our products are very different from the look and feel of this. This the aesthetic of this is very retro and vintage. And it’s I can’t wait for you to see it and have
Nestor Aparicio 23:20
excited you Oh,
Kate Airey 23:22
I am very excited. It’s once
Nestor Aparicio 23:25
you know. Well, I do too. And I’ll be giving them away. And it is a pleasure to know you and have you on anything you will say about the Ravens. I mean, I’ll just let you because you are a raving fan. You help birds up I now owe you a copy of Purple Rain one and two. I tried to figure if it’s going to be a Purple Rain three and precarious, right? I mean, let the Chiefs run around a little bit right now. But that eight months without football, it’s getting we’re getting into that weird time right now. We gotta like watch baseball and basketball and do other things. Yeah, you
Kate Airey 23:53
know, I’m an English Premier League fan. So my my football is still happening. But I’m a Ravens fan. First and foremost. And you know, you just mentioned we’re going into the dark period, which is hard. But it’s you know, there’s all sorts of stuff that happens in the offseason is if as long as you dial in and stay dialed in. I have faith, right I have faith in our team and in our organization that they will do right by us and sign everybody they need to sign and have enough money left over to you know, pay other players and preserve draft picks and everything they have to do. I don’t envy them. I would not want to be in their seats right now doing all of that negotiation, but I have to have faith that it all worked out. Otherwise I’ll drive myself nuts.
Nestor Aparicio 24:41
There was life after Flacco there shall be life after Lamar Jackson one way or another. So rest easy, Kate, you’re making great games. I hope to get you back on what we’re bringing you back into the rotation here. When the next set of games come out. Katy Perry makes games for the Maryland is it fair enough to say I mean, I can tell you the director of like all that stuff, but Do you make games what you do? Yeah,
Kate Airey 25:02
that’s exactly what I do.
Nestor Aparicio 25:03
I’ve talked about games for 31 years around here. Don’t tell anybody but Kate, Erin from the Maryland lottery, we’re gonna get the Maryland crabcakes. We’re back out on the road. Even though I’m wearing my Costas in shirt, I’m going to be at drug city on the third of March, eating the truck, city crab cake from the fountain upstairs and celebrating some really cool community people, which is what the Maryland crab cake tour was designed to do. That’s March 3, also brought to you by our friends at window nation. 866 90. Nation, you buy two, you get two free. And that’s two years of 0% financing. And I’ll tell you, I got my windows in August. They didn’t give me two years of 0% financing. But it’s been a great, great winter. So we’ll make sure you take care of that. We always take care of our sponsors. We’ll be doing that again on the Eighth of March as well at fade Lee’s, we get back and get the classic crabcake it might be might be the last time we’re failures in the original space. So we’re looking forward to doing that on March 8, Amy, and everybody down there in the family, the divine family so well. They were on all sorts of television shows recently, and Mike Rowe. Everybody’s been out seeing them so we’re gonna get a little update from them as well on March 8. All right, I’m Nestor. We are wn st am 5070, Towson Baltimore. Keep your eyes out. This 50th anniversary wishbones. Now, pull my Clint Eastwood out and say do you feel lucky? We’re Baltimore positive.com Stay with us.