Beyond Marketing by Dr. Joe Vitale

Thoughts, news, riffs and reviews by Dr. Joe Vitale ("Mr. Fire!") about marketing, publicity, selling, hypnosis, copywriting, books, fitness, metaphysics, "The Secret" and anything else he cares to comment on, including healing, humor, the Internet and yes, maybe even sex.

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Location: Wimberley, Texas, United States

Author of way too many books to list here

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Great Lotto Hoax Revealed, or, Why P.T. Barnum and Benjamin Franklin Love Me Now

If you heard my recent podcast/teleseminar on Invincible Marketing , then you know my little secret.

In short: I am directly responsible for the recent national hoax where a man claimed to win the largest lottery jackpot in American history -- and for a while convinced the media he found the lucky numbers while reading my bestselling book, The Attractor Factor

If you haven't figured out why I financed this event, here's the inside scoop: The entire publicity stunt was an Internet Marketing Strategy.

Let me explain this to you --

Since I wrote the only business book on P.T. Barnum in There's A Customer Born Every Minute, I know the value of a good hoax, humbug, or publicity stunt. Not only can they be fun, but they can lead to enormous publicity. Barnum did them all the time, and people loved them. Humbugs were the entertainment of his day.

But founding father Benjamin Franklin did them, too.

For example, he never flew a kite to discover electricity. According to Tom Tucker, in his book, Bolt of Fate: Benjamin Franklin and His Electric Kite Hoax, it was a stunt created by the dear Franklin. As a writer and printer, Franklin knew the value of getting the public's attention.

One of the greatest hoaxers of modern times is Alan Abel, who I now call a friend. After reading his books, interviewing him for my membership program, and wishing I was like him, I hired him to pull the greatest lotto hoax in modern history.

He orchestrated a smaller version of the lotto hoax once before, in New York City in 1990, when he made an unknown actress by the name of Charlene Taylor famous overnight.

I wondered if he could do it again -- but on a national scale.

He could, and did.

When the Powerball Lottery announced a winning ticket for the largest lotto jackpot in history -- a delirious $365,000,000 - Alan and his team put on warm clothes, grabbed copies of my book, and caught a plane.

They then staged a show worthy of an Oscar. Bob Pagani, a radio DJ and cohort of Alan's, used the name Bob Pagano and pretended to be the lotto winner. He carried my book and said he found the winning numbers in it.

Pandemonium broke out. TV cameras were everywhere. They covered every moment of this event. So did the press. Even Good Morning America reported the story. So did the Associated Press. One headline said "ABC Duped By Lotto Hoax."

Radio stations called me for interviews.

Newspapers ran my name, my book title, and some even printed my book's cover on their front pages.

Reporters wanted to know why I did this.

I jokingly said, "I tried to win the lotto for real. It was just easier to fake it."

It was all in fun -- but there is a master Internet Marketing Strategy behind it all, too.

After all, I am a marketer.

All of this publicity is only Step One in our grand strategy.

Step Two is to leverage all that publicity - now caught on video - into book sales. There's quite a lot to that step, and it hasn't begun yet. Alan is still doing interviews for such notables as Howard Stern, so the publicity machine hasn't cooled off and may not for a few more weeks.

So Step Two will be book sales. I can't talk about this step because it isn't activated yet. But you might want to watch sales increase for my recent books, such as The Attractor Factor and Life's Missing Instruction Manual

In fact, I am implementing part of the book sales step today, with the largest "bribe" in Internet history Some of the publicity generated by this lotto hoax will drive people to that site, where book sales will kick in.

Step Three will be to create products to sell, such as a DVD about The Great Lotto Hoax and a book about The Making of the Great Lotto Hoax.

Just as there is currently a documentary about Alan Abel's life, there will soon be a documentary about this event.

And a book.

And a Special Report.

And T-shirts, an audio program, and a seminar.

And -- who knows?

This publicity stunt will net a lot of mileage over the years to come.

My friend and mentor Paul Hartunian got publicity for selling the Brooklyn Bridge back in 1983 -- and he's still milking that story today.

Obviously, this lotto hoax will have legs for decades, and will lead to bottomline profits in a variety of ways over the years ahead.

My small investment could potentially turn into millions of dollars in sales.

Few people in business have the guts to pull something this huge in order to get attention for their products or service. But in this day -- in any day -- you have to do something to stand out in the crowd.

For example, two weeks ago I had breakfast with Andy Dallas, the next president of the Society of American Magicians He told me about his stunts to promote his magic act - such as hanging upside down from a helicopter while struggling to escape from a straight jacket.

He, of course, was simply upgrading an old stunt Houdini used to do to get attention for his magic shows in the early 1900s.

Again, you have to do something to get noticed today.

I admit I was nervous about hiring Alan Abel to create this stunt for me.

But I'm a disciple of him, and Barnum, and knew that many successful authors did outrageous things to get attention, such as Robert Allen, who promoted his real estate book by challenging the media with --

"Send me to any city in the United States. Take away my wallet. Give me $100 for living expenses. And in 72 hours I will buy an excellent piece of real estate using none of my own money."

Robert went on to become a New York Times bestselling author.

Robert's still issuing challenges. See

And besides, didn't I record the bestselling audio program called The Power of Outrageous Marketing for ?

I couldn't let fear stop me.

When it comes to having fun, making money, and making history, a good publicity stunt may just be the ticket.

Just ask P.T. Barnum, Benjamin Franklin, Alan Abel -- or me.

Ao Akua,

Joe Vitale

PS - Read one version of the lotto story at

PPS - P.T. Barnum never said, "There's a sucker born every minute." That's another hoax. For proof, read my book, There's A Customer Born Every Minute (revised version due out April, 2006 from J. Wiley, Inc.) and/or see

PPPS - If you want to know how the world's #1 book publicist gets publicity, see

PPPPS - Be sure to see You know you want to.

If you like the free articles on this blog, let Joe know by buying him his all-time favorite gift - an Amazon gift certificate. His email is Click Here!


Blogger C. Rogers Upson said...

Teehee, Dr. Joe, that is just too fun! What a bold and brazen thing to do to promote your book! What a creative thing to do.

As always, very thought provoking and inspiring. Thank you.

12:59 AM  
Blogger Alex Makarski said...

Hey Joe,

I daily have to push my client outside their comfort zone to help them grow their sales. And they frantically try to preserve that "dignity" (whatever it is) that is holding them back. And every time you pull out something like this -- seemingly effortless (I know it isn't but it seems so) -- stunt, all I can do is stare in awe.

Thank you for making us privy to what you're doing.

You're an inspiration.


10:41 AM  
Blogger Thrifty Dude said...

Is Bull OK With The Right Cleanser?

In my comments below I talked about Art Of BS.

Does the hoax justify the hosing directed toward the media and the public in general?

In my comments and articles I think yes but only if you use the right cleanser.

In this case I'm not sure what the cleanser is.

Hats off to getting attention even Britney Spears would die for.

I just wished this prank was flanked by a bigger cause above boosting sales.

If there was one and I missed it then to be fair I'm sorry I'm not giving you credit.

How about a tie in where how even with winning the lottery your financial success or your happiness is still a crap shoot without, ah, Life's Instruction Manual?

How about a tie in with Gambler's Anonomous, just like this prank fooling the media gamblers everyday are fooled into thinking they can beat the odds, but they won't without, ah, Life's Instruction Manual.

Say ten percent of profits will go towards helping turn gambler's lives into a sure bet and every new member that joins GA will receive a free copy of Life's Instruction Manual.

Wow, now I'm starting to see a goo cleanser!!

By the way one of P.T. Barnum's first enterprises was of all things a Lottery.

Garth Gibson

1:23 PM  
Blogger Joe Vitale said...

Garth, the lotto stunt was done to promote my book "The Attractor Factor," which was explained in my blog entry.

The book is a life-changing work that more people need, so I think the bigger cause and the honest motivation is there, alive and well, for all to see.

Thanks for your two cents, and yes, Barnum did in fact sell lotto tickets, when it was legal to do so, as I explain in my book on him, "There's A Customer Born Every Minute."


4:11 PM  
Blogger KPTV-Watch said...

Hi, Joe. This is Bob Pagani. Yes, THE Bob Pagani from the Lotto Hoax. We've never actually met, but I wanted to tell you that I had great fun portraying America's Largest-ever Lotto Prize Winner. I thought the stunt went very well. As you know from seeing the DVD, at one point, I had three TV cameras, one radio microphone and a print reporter sitting across the table from me, all throwing questions at once.

Well before Alan Abel and I went to Nebraska to pull off the Lotto Hoax, I read your Barnum book. Like you, I've long thought that P.T. was a master marketer and I've always marvelled at the fact that more people don't use some of his techniques today.

One of these days you and I will have to meet up somewhere. I think there's a lot we could do together. God knows I have loads of ideas waiting to see the light of day.

7:55 PM  

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