Ernie Passailaigue, former director of the South Carolina Lottery, hit the jackpot when he became director of the Arkansas Lottery at an annual salary of $324,000—third highest in the nation.  Now he’s helping a couple of his friends from South Carolina hit it big in Arkansas too.   Last week, the Arkansas Lottery Commission and the lottery legislative oversight committee gave Passailaigue the green light to hire two lottery vice-presidents, each at $225,000 a year.  He has tapped David Barden, South Carolina’s $133,000-a-year director of marketing, and Ernestine Middleton, South Carolina’s $144,000-a-year internal operations director.

Passailaigue justified the big salaries for himself and his friends by promising to assemble a world class staff and make the Arkansas Lottery the best lottery in the world.  “We are coming out here on the basis we think this is a tremendous opportunity to do something special and to have the best lottery in the world.” […] We’re going to make this into a world class staff,” Passailaigue told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

This reminds me of the time 30 years ago when my uncle tried to sell three hunting dogs for $50 apiece.  Not being able to sell any, he simply raised the price to $150 each.  He immediately sold all three.  It seems that nobody thought a cheap dog could get the job done, so paying triple what they were really worth made folks feel better.

Essentially, these are the same people who have been running the South Carolina Lottery for a lot less money.  So if they are as good as Passailaigue says they are, the South Carolina Lottery should be “world class.”  However, reports out of South Carolina indicate that their lottery scholarships have barely been able to keep up with the rising cost of college, leaving college just as unaffordable there as before the lottery. World class? Hardly.

More on the lottery hiring from Mike Wickline at the Arkansas-Democrat Gazette: For additional information about the South Carolina Lottery and its scholarship funding trouble, see this editorial from Dana Kelley at the NWA Times: