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# Columbo: Death Hits the Jackpot (1991)

Freddy Brower has a problem - he just won \$30 million in the lottery. However, he doesn't want to share it with his wife Nancy, whose failing marriage is on the brink of divorce. His uncle, jeweler Leon Lamarr, willingly offers him help... The motif of the danger of sudden lottery winnings is nicely captured in the 59th episode of the Columbo series - Death Hits the Jackpot.

## Freddy's Unexpected Lottery Win

Freddy is a freelance photographer just trying to get by. His marriage is falling apart, and his wife has filed for divorce. One evening, Freddy watches the lottery draw, circling the winning numbers on his ticket with his favorite numbers (which are on his camera - 4, 5, 6, 8, 11, 16) as they are drawn in this sequence:

16, 8, 6, 4, 5, 11.

He has all the numbers correct and struggles to hide his excitement from his wife. He's just won \$30 million, but he'll have to share it if he collects before the divorce.

## Probability of Winning the Lottery

A bit of math: unfortunately, it seems to be a fictional lottery, or we could precisely calculate the probability of winning. If there were, let's say, a total of 50 numbers (balls) in the game, then the number of all combinations of six numbers (sixes) that can be created from 50 numbers is 15,890,700 - try entering the formula =COMBIN(50,6) in Excel, for example. So the probability of guessing one winning combination of six numbers is therefore 1 in roughly 16 million.

## A \$15 Million Problem

His uncle Lamar, who raised him since his parents' death in a plane crash, offers him help with his 15 million dollar problem - he'll collect Freddy's winnings and give him the money only after the divorce.

Freddy is initially cautious and demands written confirmation of their illegal agreement. However, he fails to see through his uncle's true intentions. Lamar collects the lottery winnings according to plan and becomes a local celebrity. Stressed Freddy, who desperately needs the money, waits 14 days before his uncle agrees to pay him.

Lamar hosts masquerade party for the wealthy, while Freddy stays home, looking after his friend's chimpanzee. Lamar slips away from the party and heads to Freddy's apartment. He claims the money is in the car. He asks Freddy for the paper with their agreement and suggests they toast with champagne. However, as Freddy turns away, Lamar strikes him on the head with a bottle, knocking him unconscious.

Lamar drags Freddy into the bathroom and stages an accident in the bathtub. He sets Freddy's waterproof watch to 8:00 p.m., an hour later than the murder occurs. Then he smashes the watch against the edge of the tub. This will seemingly give him an airtight alibi because the accident/murder will happen when the party is full of guests.

## A Surprising Twist

Another surprising twist occurs in the episode. Shortly after Freddy's murder, his wife Nancy enters the apartment as Lamar's mistress and accomplice. She stays in the apartment while Lamar returns home in time for the start of the party. Nancy calls him at home, pretending to be Freddy, and claims he'll be late for the party.

## Clues, Trivia, and Case Resolution

The case initially looks like an accident until Columbo notices that Freddy's watch is only a non-waterproof counterfeit. Why would someone wear non-waterproof watches to the bath, or why would someone wear watches to the bath at all?

Columbo looks for other clues and trivia that don't add up. He focuses on Freddy's apartment, his friends, and uncle Leon. He soon discovers an expensive champagne crate in Freddy's apartment and realizes that the penniless Freddy wanted to buy a \$175,000 car. Finally, Columbo notices the numbers on Freddy's camera, which match the winning lottery numbers...

It's clear to Columbo that Freddy's uncle Leon Lamarr is guilty, but he needs evidence. While examining Freddy's photographs, he notices that the chimpanzee likes to take shiny metal objects from people. He remembers that Uncle Leon, who had a royal costume at the party, also had a bright medallion around his neck. Columbo has the medallion checked, and his suspicions are confirmed - the chimpanzee's fingerprints will be on the medallion. This convicts Uncle Leon Lamarr that he was in Freddy's apartment on the day of the murder.

In conclusion, Columbo cleverly creates the impression that Nancy has sold Leon to the police to inherit the lottery winnings from her deceased husband Freddy. This Leon does not grant her and reveals the whole plot.

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Based on the original Czech article: Columbo – Smrt bere jackpot.