Odds On Lottery Winner Staying in Station Biz Not So Long
The odds of matching all six numbers in Tuesday’s Mega Millions lottery in which an L.A. TV station employee won some $266 million are mind boggling: 1 in 175,711,536, according to the AP. So what are the chances the winner will keep working in the station biz? I submit they’re not nearly as long as you might think.
As of Friday morning, Jacki Wells Cisneros, who was working Tuesday night’s graveyard shift on KNBC’s assignment desk when she discovered she and her husband won, remained with the station. KNBC offered B&C this statement May 7:
“On Wednesday morning, Jacki Wells Cisneros stayed at work after learning she and her husband were holding the winning lottery ticket and worked through the majority of her shift. She has been off on personal business since then. Jacki has indicated that she would like to continue working at KNBC, and we would be happy to have her do so. The station and its employees are thrilled for Jacki and her husband.”
In a May 6 AP story, Cisneros’ co-worker David Reese said he expected Cisneros to keep her job: “She said she loves work and she doesn’t want this to change her life that way. She says she needs the routine.”
As anyone who reads B&C knows, local news is not for everybody. Working the assignment desk overnight? That takes a particularly special person, one who features a unique sort of love for local TV coursing through their veins that makes it tough to ever really walk away from the newsroom.
I don’t know Cisneros well, but from what she and her colleagues say — and my own experience with her — my gut is that she’s got that kind of stuff in her blood. I met her late last year after Cisneros tracked me down, looking for someone to talk on-air with KNBC anchor Alycia Lane about the retrans showdown between Fox and Time Warner Cable. L.A., of course, is a big TWC market and Cisneros knew the deal that was expiring at the end of 2009 had major implications for her viewers. Cisneros talked knowledgeably about the story on the phone, and I certainly noticed that local news twinkle when I got to KNBC. Cisneros was sure to greet me as I arrived at the station at the tail end of her holiday shift that afternoon.
The night Cisneros won the lottery with a ticket she and her husband bought at L&L Hawaiian Barbecue (she wanted KFC, but he won the decision to go to L&L) she finished her shift, heading home at her normal time of 8 a.m., according to the story on KNBC’s Web site www.nbclosangeles.com. By all accounts, she exhibited not one iota of “take this job and shove it.”
None of this is to say at all if Cisneros does eventually say “See-ya!” to the graveyard shift — or the station world entirely — that we should blame her. Nor should we question the amount of “station love” she has in her blood. But I bet she’ll keep her local news ties somehow.
As she and her husband said in an interview with KNBC, their winnings are way more than they could have imagined (Click here to watch the station’s interview with the winning couple.)
With that kind of cash they could buy a bunch of TV stations. In B&C’s latest “Deals” report, to be published in our May 10 edition, an ABC affiliate in Corpus Christi, Texas went for $31.3 million. Other outlets in smaller markets are going for a fraction of that.
So congratulations to the Cisneros family and best of luck to them as they plan what to do with their winnings and how — if at all — Jacki might remain part of the television community. Fellow station folk, what would you do?
Follow me on Twitter: @melissagrego