Television personality Sarah Pingel of the New York State Lottery has been drawing lottery numbers for two years now and is a familiar face around the state. Performing first in Albany with the Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company at the Egg, Pingel, 27, recently entered Sage College to study physical therapy.
Pingel is tough to miss. In heels, she stands 6 feet tall.
>Quite a combination: dancing and the lottery.
I actually just retired from dancing. I'm choreographing now, and I've decided to get my doctorate in physical therapy. As we all know, dancing is quite physical and it adds a lot of wear and tear on your body. I have been an injured dancer for many years, and have spent a lot of days in physical therapy. I was so inspired by my physical therapists I decided I wanted to do it myself.
>Drawing numbers is quick and easy, right?
It's a longer process than people realize. There's so much that goes on behind the scenes. When they say there is an auditor from KPMG, there really is an auditor in a suit watching us. They need to see that the drawing is completely secure. There can be no mistakes made -- ever.
>Has a drawing been stopped?
It has to really, truly be an emergency, and there is an emergency script if that happens. Anything that goes a little bit haywire will always be documented.
>What is most challenging about your job?
There is a tremendous amount of focus required because it's a very short time you're on TV. There's really no room for mistakes. That's what people forget. If I call a wrong number, that's a major problem on live TV. If that happens, somebody immediately calls "Recap," the signal that something has gone wrong. We start over and try to hide the mistake the best we can.
>Do you rehearse?
Absolutely. Every day before the drawing we do three pretests, to make sure that each chamber has three unique numbers that appear each time. It gives us a chance to get used to the lights, make sure our wardrobe and makeup looks right.
>Are your clothes provided?
Yes, by the Burlington Coat Factory -- weekly.
>What is your favorite game to call?
I love doing the Lotto nights, the big drawing. I like knowing I'm giving away millions of dollars. When you do Lotto, you know you are having a direct impact on someone.
>What about stage fright?
I wouldn't call it that, but I definitely get anxious before each drawing because I want to make sure I do a good job. If I'm not focused, I find that it's easy to make a mistake. I try and clear my head. If I have too many thoughts running through my head, sometimes they come out of my mouth. I try to meditate before we go live.
>Are your eyes on the numbers?
Absolutely. That's the first thing we learn: Don't take your eyes away from the numbers. I usually try to read the word on the ball under the number, just to make sure I don't mix up.
>What would you do if you won?
Obviously I can't play the lottery, but if I had a big chunk of money I would travel. A family member who lives under the same roof as me can not play the lottery either.
>Did you play before you got the job?
Ironically I was never a Numbers or a Win Four player, but I did like my scratch-offs.