They say that life imitates art and there are plenty of examples of real people being influenced by the storylines and characters of their favorite television shows. Television reigned supreme as the king of entertainment until very recently, when internet streaming services like Netflix and HBO Go began to gain ground. In fact, a survey in 2017 saw six in ten young adults in the US report back that they primarily use online streaming platforms to watch TV. However, whether you watch your TV online or through an actual television set, it’s clear that TV shows continue to be absolutely enormous. Shows like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, NCIS and The Big Bang Theory attract huge numbers of viewers. Here are some times when life imitated television.
Lost and the lottery winners
Lost was an absolute phenomenon from the moment it aired in 2004. The interesting cast of characters, the juicy mystery and gripping premise created a show that you just had to keep watching. There was a set of repeating digits that played a huge role in the story and the lives of some of the characters. 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42. The lovable Hurley, as we saw in one of the series’ trademark flashback sequences, actually picked those exact numbers to win a huge $114 million jackpot before he ended up on the island.
Fans of the show in 2011 decided that they would like a bit of that Hurley luck (though, hopefully not the luck which ended up with his coming to be on the island after a horrific plane crash) and picked those fateful numbers. Spookily, four of the numbers came up in the right order – 4, 8, 15, 25, 47 and 42. 25,587 people had the Lost numbers and they each won $150. Maybe that’s better than $114 million and being stranded on a dangerous island. There are plenty of ways to choose your lottery numbers – you can simulate a lottery drawing using an automatic number picker.
Seinfeld and recycling fraud
There’s an episode of the hit US comedy series Seinfeld where Kramer and Newman come up with a money-making scheme involving recycling old cans and bottles. They decide to take thousands of cans and bottles to Michigan to get a nickel more per item than they would if they recycled them in New York. This episode apparently had a profound impact on a couple that ran a Maine redemption center and a man from Massachusetts. They were all indicted on charges of illegally making money on redeeming out-of-state cans and bottles in Maine.
People are even choosing their careers based on TV shows. It was reported in 2017 that nearly 40% of millennials are choosing their careers based on the TV shows they’ve watched. Police procedurals and shows about doctors and lawyers dominate the airwaves. Fletchers Solicitors, a UK legal agency, ran the survey and their CEO even admitted that he also decided to be a lawyer based on his time watching TV lawyers winning cases and bringing justice to cases.