I sat bolt upright at my computer, staring at the screen as the following words flashed out at me:
"Mass blackout hits California, Arizona and Mexico."
That day in 2011, up to 5 million people in Los Angeles, San Diego and Tijuana suffered a total blackout.
And the first word that came to my mind was "powerless."
Without power, how would the lottery terminals run?
How would lotto store staff process tickets - let alone credit card payments? Lottery machines require both power and a working phone line.
So I rang my national lottery game HQ and asked what would happen. They admitted they didn't know.
Looks like the affected game would be carried over when the power came back on.
That wasn't very reassuring for players like us who want full control over our investment.
Same thing happened in California 3 years earlier, and luckily the SuperLotto Plus game was able to be drawn with the Sacramento County headquarter's backup generators.
But just in case you get a power outage or rolling blackout at the wrong time, here's two tips to consider:
TIP #1) Always wait until the last minute before you buy your tickets. If your game draw is on a Saturday night at 8pm, then find the cutoff period that night and get there 15 minutes beforehand. This means that if there is a power shortage any time Saturday up till play closes, you won't waste your money. Of course, many lotteries might have generators or an alternate way to complete the draw, but it's worth considering.
TIP #2) Won a big prize? Put a house emergency generator on your shopping list. Get a built-in outside unit that automatically comes on when the mains power switch is tripped and completely takes over all your power needs. It costs around $5,000, and will also add to the value of your home.