Feature Article from the Orange County Ledger-Times An Inquiry into Mall Magic :

A Feature Story in Five Parts

November 12, 1999: Investigative Reporting

After interviewing the proprietess of the Bet Your Life store in Huntington Mall, and talking with nearby merchants, I decided to ask some customers about their experiences.

The next logical step was to visit Nikki D'Orio, the niece of Louise and Joe Poole. Nikki agreed to meet me at her house after cheerleader practice (she did not make the cheerleader squad, as you recall, but she goes to the practices to meet young men).

Marveling at the luxury of the homes on the water, I almost missed her address--a large home on a point with a yacht parked at the dock. Nikki, clad in shorts and a Huntington Beach High football practice t-shirt, led me to the living room, which had a good view of the water. She was eager to talk about her experiences with Bet Your Life. Nikki said that she was sure she would not make the cheerleading squad, and when she saw a chance to soften that blow, she was glad to take it.

"I didn't think she would pay off," Nikki said, "But when I went back the next week, she handed me five hundred dollars and all I had to do was sign a receipt--all legal and everything." That very day, she bought another insurance policy.

"My friend, Kimberley, and I had been checking out these two football players at Huntington Beach--we'd seen them at games and stuff. She dared me to put a position on Jason Lanning. He hasn't asked me out yet, but he gave me this, today." She twirled in her extra-large football shirt. Kimberly, she said, had placed a similar bet on her heart-throb, Kurt Anaka. The cost of each bet was $4000.

"We both have money in the bank," she explained, "and this is a good cause." I asked Nikki if she was supposed to do anything to make this "date" happen.

"Oh, yes, Annabelle advised me to call him on the phone, invite him to our car wash, things like that. The idea is to get him to ask me out." I wondered privately whether such human influence ruined the purity of the numbers. Nikki, though, had the best explanation yet of how the system worked.

"Annabelle just takes your name and converts it to numbers," she said. "Then she takes key words, like 'cheerleader' or Jason Lanning, whatever she feels is right, and converts them to numbers, too. Then she runs them through the Fibonacci computer It's all scientific."

Did Nikki know who Fibonacci was?

"Sure, he invented numbers."

As I am nodding and writing, I notice there is still a big hole where the machinery of the risk gets figured. I ask Nikki what her payout is, if she doesn't get the date.

"The odds are good here, Annabelle says, I only get $5000. She says if I follow her advice, it's almost a sure thing." Just on a whim, I asked about the young men, themselves.

"Oh, all the boys are doing it--Bolsa and Huntington guys. They insure for the football games." I ask if that--putting money to insure that the other team loses--wasn't rather close to gambling on the games.

"Oh no," Nikki assured me, "because everyone is doing it. And they are sworn to secrecy about what their contract is. It all evens out."

Blazing light coming through the window, murky logic everywhere. Numbers generated from names of teams matched against the numerology of the player's names. It might predict something, but probably not the outcome of any game, or any romance.

I would have to dig deeper.