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11 May 2010

Ray Charles Ft. In Oregon and DC Powerball Commercials (2002)

The Ray Charles Powerball campaign consisted of two* television and radio spots in rhythm and blues and jazz formats that were customized for 15 lotteries. The spots ran from January 14 to 17 and from April 8 through April 21, 2002.
"Mariaceleste358", the girl who submitted the clip to YouTube, wrote: "This is a spot from the Ray Charles Powerball campaign for the Oregon Lottery. I am one of the girls "singing" in the sound booth. The other girls and I were billed as The Paylettes and featured in several promotion[s] with Ray Charles, for his brand of slot machines and several Powerball spots."
*The campaign probably encompassed 5 commercials. The other themes that were produced (at least for the New Mexico Powerball campaign were: Rock 'n Roll, Country and Contemporary.

3 slot machines have been named after Ray and his songs: America The Beautiful, What'd I Pay, and Ray's Jukebox.

From an interview by Lisa Verrico (in Scotland on Sunday, 12 January 2003), titled Life & Soul (source here):
Recently, he has squeezed another hobby into his busy schedule. Believe it or not, Charles designs slot machines. "I make slot machines for blind people," he says with a grin. "They've been a huge success. They sell all over the world, even in Russia. The machines talk - they tell you what's going on - and there's also a guide in braille. It's my voice on there and my sense of humour - if you take too long to play, I tell you to get a move on. Unfortunately, there's been a bit of a hitch with some of the machines recently. They've been paying out 10 times the amount they're supposed to. Someone is sorting that out now, but if anyone out there comes across one, they should have a go. They might get lucky."
The slot machines have been a huge hit, but Charles swears he hasn't kept a cent of the money they've made. "All the profit goes to my music foundation," he explains. "It helps children who are deaf. Some of them only need one operation to help them hear again, but their parents can't afford it. We pay for an operation - it costs about 45,000 - every week.
"Often the parents don't know it's me who is paying, but I like that. I don't want recognition. I just want to help the kids. I can't imagine being deaf. That would be awful. To me, it's the worst thing in the world. Imagine never being able to hear music, or to hear a loved one talk to you? Most people expect me to help the blind, but I don't think they need help. After all, I'm blind and I'm doing all right." 
 
The story of his slot machine brand was published in Jet, on 22 October 2001:



In 2002 Ray also had a part in the campaign for the DC Powerball Lottery (see clipping, left) and the New Mexico Poweball Lottery (see this post).
Also see the articles on Ray's involvement in commercials for the Oregon and Georgia lotteries.

In 2002 Ray also performed in commercials for the Pennsylvania Lottery (sources: 1, 2, 3), the Iowa Lottery (4), and the Delaware Lottery (5). That last source, a press release, probably named all 14 lotteries that ran the campaign: Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota and West Virginia. Each lottery ran the television and radio spots between now early January and Spring 2002.

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