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On average, Canadians purchase 17 million Lotto 649 tickets before each draw. Some lottery enthusiasts even tune in to watch the draw on television, focusing the full force of their psychic abilities on each bouncing lotto ball. If the right numbers don't come up, disappointed players can be forgiven for cursing the odds, the stars or an unlucky disposition. Just don't blame the balls.
The 'keep the ball rolling' phrase owes its origin and popularity to the US presidential election of July 1840. That election is widely regarded as introducing all the paraphernalia of present-day elections, i.e. campaign songs, advertising slogans and publicity stunts of all kinds. The unpopular incumbent President Martin Van Buren was pitted against Whig candidates, General William Harrison, a war hero who had fought against the Shawnee Indians at Tippecanoe, and John Tyler. The Whig candidates revelled in a folksy 'cider-drinking, log-cabin, men of the people' image and adopted the first known political slogan - 'Tippecanoe and Tyler, too'. A song of the same name was considered to have sung Harrison into the presidency:
Don't you hear from every quarter, quarter, quarter,
Good news and true,
That swift the ball is rolling on
For Tippecanoe and Tyler Too.
Harrison's campaign literature referred to Victory Balls. These weren't, as we might expect, dance parties that celebrated his famous victory, but ten-foot diameter globes made of tin and leather, which were pushed from one campaign rally to the next. His supporters were invited to attend rallies and push the ball on to the next town, chanting 'keep the ball rolling'.
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