Atheist converts after Jesus helps his mom win lottery

This news item from the Christian Post, which seems real (see replication here), is absolutely indistinguishable from something that could have appeared in The Onion.

Sal Bentivegna, 28, who did not previously believe in God, had sarcastically asked his mother to “ask your God for a million dollars”.

However, his mother Gloria Bentivegna, follows the Catholic faith, and staying true to her belief refused to ask God for such a thing.

Taking his joke further, Sal then prayed out aloud saying, “God, I don’t know if you’re real or not, but if you are there, please let my mother win a million dollars.”

He added, “If Jesus wants me to believe in him, that’s what he’ll do”.

The following day his mother bought a “Lotto Tree” of unscratched instant win tickets from her Church’s charity auction. Sal was then left absolutely stunned when he found out his mother had won a million.

Realizing that the odds of his mother winning were so farfetched, Sal has now become a firm believer.

He testified, “I can’t shrug off that Jesus had a hand in it.”

Okay, if Jesus wants me to believe in him, he’ll turn P.Z.’s arms and legs into tentacles. I swear I’ll believe then!


  1. Posted May 28, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Oh, I thought P.Z.’s arms and legs are already tentacles ;-)

    • sasqwatch
      Posted May 28, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

      oh… TENTACLES. I misread that the first time.

      • Grania
        Posted May 28, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

        What did you think it was the first time?

      • Grania
        Posted May 28, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

        On second thoughts, don’t answer that.

        • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
          Posted May 28, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

          Ah. Second thoughts, those kinds of thoughts that are hastily replaced with third thoughts. =D

          • Posted May 28, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

            All I can say is, PZ has enough cojones already!


            • Posted May 30, 2011 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

              Really? You have first “hand” experience of this .)

      • Dominic
        Posted May 28, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

        SO useful on those occasions when you want to hold a beer in one hand & hold a plate of food in another but need a tentacle so you can use a fork!

  2. mordacious1
    Posted May 28, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    I’ll become a true believer if one of my jesus-freak relatives wins the lottery…at least until the money runs out.

    • Dominic
      Posted May 28, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      I only takes a million Jesus freaks to make one millionaire!

      • MadScientist
        Posted May 29, 2011 at 1:14 am | Permalink

        It takes far fewer than that; they seem too happy to give money to people who claim to be god’s representatives on earth.

    • JTrentadue
      Posted May 29, 2011 at 12:13 am | Permalink

      My thoughts exactly.

      • Dominic
        Posted May 29, 2011 at 2:10 am | Permalink

        Though from this side of the Atlantic being a $ millionaire looks a little less attractive than being a £ millionaire! It really is not that much money these days – the average house price in Greater London is $670,000.

  3. Andy Dufresne
    Posted May 28, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    Wow. That’s actually some coincidence. Guess we’ll have to believe in Jesus now…

  4. Friend of Icelos
    Posted May 28, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Because no one else ever prays to God when they buy a lotto ticket…

    • sasqwatch
      Posted May 28, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

      …or lies for Jeebus when they get in the news for any reason.

    • Steven Byrd
      Posted May 29, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

      From that guys prospective, you gotta give him a break. If that happened to me, I would definitely call my atheism into doubt.

      If you wouldn’t I think you’re being a bit too dogmatic in your beliefs, and not rational enough.

      • Forbidden Snowflake
        Posted May 30, 2011 at 3:47 am | Permalink

        Seriously? You would seriously consider believing that while myriads of people live in poverty and never catch a financial break, suffer from disease, sometimes due to lack of funds for treatment… That while thousands probably prayed to the same god to win the same lottery, some of whom were surely in more acute financial duress than you… YOU won a million dollars, hence Jesus?

        There is nothing “dogmatic” or “irrational” about pointing out the glaring flaws in what passes for thinking with that person. Sure, from his perspective it’s understandable, he’s obviously very emotional due to winning the lottery, etc.. But the one thing he’s not is rational. He is, however, extremely self-centered.

        • launcher
          Posted May 31, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

          Well said!

      • Joe Hern
        Posted June 1, 2011 at 4:01 am | Permalink

        Im happy you said you “think” , because it implies you haven’t concluded yet. Without detailing it here, I can assure you that if gone is savvy to statistics, one will not need dogmatic for not doubting thier atheism. Your comment ilicited the same initial reaction I get when a Christian says to me “you’re only an atheist because you don’t want to be accountable for your behavior”. I.e., an immediate recognition that they haven’t really learned enough to even begin to engage in a nd intelligent conversation about this”, but that’s the feeling I get after said ignorance is stated as fact, so like I said, I am happy you did not conclude that position. Again, statistics proves the opposite of what many are thinking it does in this story, but you have to understand stats first.

  5. Sigmund
    Posted May 28, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    Giving 1 million dollars to atheists to tempt them to convert?
    Who the hell does God think he is?
    John Templeton?

  6. Posted May 28, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Winning the lottery you entered isn’t a miracle.

    Now, if Jesus is real then he will make ME win a million on the lottery this week. It will be MUCH more convincing in my case, because I don’t play it.

    • Posted May 28, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Permalink


    • Rob
      Posted May 29, 2011 at 5:15 am | Permalink

      Congratulations! You’ve won the Nigerian lottery. Check your e-mail

    • Sili
      Posted June 7, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

      Old Schwartz prays to God: “Dear Lord, let me win the lottery.”

      Schwartz is a pious man, who’s always followed the commandments. He’s a proper shomer Shabbos.

      Every week, old Schwartz prays “Dear Lord, let me win the lottery.”

      So it goes – week after week, year after year.

      Finally one day, Schwartz is fed up: “Lord! I have observed all your mitzvot. I have been a pious man. I have done good by my neighbour. – For years I have asked only one thing: ‘Let me win the lottery’, but even this little have you not seen fit to grant me.”

      Then a voice booms from high: “Meet me halfway here, Schwartz. At least buy a meshuggeneh ticket for once!”

  7. Posted May 28, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Well all the children that were born and lived a life of perpetual starvation and suffering who died yesterday Im sure can bask in Jesus’ glory of helping grandma win the fucking lotto.

    • julian
      Posted May 28, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

      Obviously those who are dying already believe so their immortal soul ™ are in no danger. What’s his face needed his faith affirmed else his soul would be lost. Can’t you see why it had to be done?

    • Your Name's not Bruce?
      Posted May 28, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, I always thought the same about prayers by football teams. It’s not like Jesus has anything else to do….

    • Posted May 28, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

      Ah, but now Sal can help the starving and suffering children who haven’t died yet.

      Those that have? Well, they’re already in Heaven, which is a better place…


  8. Posted May 28, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Okay, if Jesus wants me to believe in him, he’ll turn P.Z.’s arms and legs into tentacles. I swear I’ll believe then!

    Nah. That wouldn’t be proof of Jesus — it’d be proof of Cthulu fucking with your head.

    Jesus would take a pneumatic staple gun to PZ’s hands and feet, impale him with some track and field equipment, let him ripen for a few days, and then reanimate his fetid corpse. You’d be convinced when, instead of trying to eat your delicious braaaaaaaainz, Zombie PZ tried to get you to fondle his intestines. And then insisted that you eat his flesh and drink his blood so that you could join him in the joys of zombihood.

    That’s WJWD. Says right there in the Wholly Babble.

    If any god decides to answer your prayer, I sure hope it’s anyone but Jesus. Even Cthulu I could handle. but Jesus? Hell no!



    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted May 28, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Permalink


      Zombis, is that some kind of bimbo zombies?

      Why haven’t I heard of them before? More importantly, are there LOLzombis? Want… perhapz.

      • Posted May 28, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

        I prefer “zombidom” It’s got the sound of those jungle drums.

        • Dominic
          Posted May 29, 2011 at 2:12 am | Permalink

          Zombie Dom – I like it!

      • Posted May 28, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

        Actually, I think a zambi is when your venison steak does the Charleston.

        Not to be confused, of course, with a rambie, which is when your lapin au vin grabs the knife from you and heroically fights its way to freedom.

        Oh — in case you were wondering, the answer to that eternal question, “What would Jesus drive?”

        Duh. A Zomboni.



        • MadScientist
          Posted May 29, 2011 at 1:12 am | Permalink

          My lapin au vin never stood a chance, but it went down valiantly.

  9. Posted May 28, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    “God, I don’t know if you’re real or not, but if you are. . .”

    Sounds like an ignorant, fence-sitting agnostic to me. Hardly an atheist.

    • Kevin Anthoney
      Posted May 28, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

      To be fair on the kid, it can be difficult shaking a religious upbringing, and weird coincidences like that can really shake your confidence.

      I hope he recovers.

  10. MeAgain
    Posted May 28, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    If god give me a million dollars I promise to spend almost all of it helping others (with free beer and cookies)… I said my prayer on the toilet when the food was on the way out instead of in.

  11. Tulse
    Posted May 28, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    So does that mean that everyone who prayed but lost the lottery is now atheist?

    • Posted May 28, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

      No, just unworthy sinners.


      Except those who were’t religious to begin with, of course!

    • Posted May 28, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

      No. It just means that everyone who didn’t win lucked out when praying, since only one person is allowed a winning ticket…

      …oh wait!

  12. Posted May 28, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    If there wasn’t any chance of winning, why would anyone buy a ticket?

  13. jose
    Posted May 28, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz?

    • Sili
      Posted June 7, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Permalink


      What happened to “render unto Caesar”?

      Even Sai Baba could conjure Swiss watches out of thin air – complete with serial numbers and makers’ marks. No need for ‘buying’ here.

  14. Jack van Beverningk
    Posted May 28, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    If I pray to Jesus and win 1 million dollars, I … STILL would not believe in him!

  15. Moewicus
    Posted May 28, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    As it turns out, atheism is no replacement for a basic understanding of statistics.

  16. Ichthyic
    Posted May 28, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    while Sal may or may not have changed his mind about Jesus answering prayers, one thing is clear about Sal that has not changed one bit:

    Sal is an idiot.

  17. Tim
    Posted May 28, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    Imagine if PZ won the lotto after a replay of the communion wafer stunt – that would probably drive more christians to atheism than everything the Gnus have ever done. Now that would be something!

  18. John Swindle
    Posted May 28, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    Somewhere online, I read somebody’s view of a situation sorta like this; a person who had been an atheist found Jaysus and made a big deal of it. The writer (I think it was PZ talking about Kirk Cameron) summed up the conversion, saying the guy had been an atheist for no good reason, and then had become a christian for no good reason.
    If the convertee had never put any thought into his worldview, then what is the point of using him as an example of anything?

    • Dominic
      Posted May 29, 2011 at 2:14 am | Permalink

      Yes – he has gone from being an idiot who did not think to being an unthinking idiot.

  19. Tom Wald
    Posted May 28, 2011 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    When I first read the headline (posted elsewhere), I assumed that the “atheist” had converted _from_ Christianity. That would seem to make more sense. Excessive worldly riches seem incompatible with Jesus’ values. So a supposed prayer to Jesus that successfully (yes, only coincidentally, but it’s “real” for believers) results in riches would seem to invalidate Jesus’ own priorities. That contradiction could make someone become an unbeliever.

  20. gerard26
    Posted May 28, 2011 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    Jeebus did it? will delusions ever cease.

  21. PZ Myers
    Posted May 28, 2011 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    I think it’s fine if conversion to Christianity is dependent on winning the lottery. That rather limits the rate quite a bit right there.

    I just checked my limbs…still got bones. You people aren’t praying hard enough!

    • Posted May 28, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

      You people aren’t praying hard enough!

      Hey, I’m doin’ my part — I just ate a bacon cheeseburger for dinner, and I stopped on the way home to get a family pack of chicken thighs and some sausage.


      Something’s not right here.

      Oh…you mean we’re supposed to be prAying for you?


      This is gonna be harder than I thought.

      Um…I’ve got some rosemary, used a generous pinch last night in the chicken-with-40-pieces of garlic. Catholics are really into rosemary, right?


      Okay…how ’bout lamb with cod? Cheeses fried in lard…?

      Looks like I’ll have to get back to you….



  22. Posted May 28, 2011 at 9:25 pm | Permalink


    It’s already happened!

    Here’s the photographic proof!

    We’re all domed! Domed, I tell you! Domed! It’s as bad as if we all turned into Buckminster Fuller clones and shaved our heads!

    The Rupture is upon us! That Campy guy was right! And I can’t stop using exclamation points!

    PZesus, I beg of you: please forgive me, and eat me first! Or at least second!



  23. Tacroy
    Posted May 28, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

    I just wanted to point out that, in fact, God did not actually give his mother a million dollars – yes, she won that much money, but something like half of it goes right back to the state in taxes (funny how that works, since most lotteries are state sponsored :)) so she’ll only see something on the order of $500,000, not $1,000,000. If God were actually answering that specific prayer and it was not random chance, she would have won something more like two million dollars.

    So really, one cannot say that the prayer was successful – at best, it only half worked.

    • Dominic
      Posted May 29, 2011 at 2:22 am | Permalink

      Strewth! That is only £300,000. You would be hard put to buy a modest house in London for that – as I pointed out above.

  24. Posted May 28, 2011 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    So why doesn’t everyone who prays for a million dollars win the lottery? Because Jesus says many are called but few are chosen. So you see, this story proves the Bible is true, yippee!

  25. MadScientist
    Posted May 29, 2011 at 1:06 am | Permalink

    Sal forgot the important part: test for the reliability of the result.

    So the christian god is into bribing people to believe in him now, but apparently can’t be bothered addressing evil throughout the world.

  26. 386sx
    Posted May 29, 2011 at 1:11 am | Permalink

    I won the instant lottery three times in a row once. $20 was the biggest ticket though. Which is why I remain an agnostic to this day. We’ve already established what Mr. Bentivegna is. We’re just haggling over the price. (Yes this comment makes no sense at all but it sounds like it should be funny so the hell with it.)

  27. Joe Hern
    Posted May 29, 2011 at 2:38 am | Permalink

    Lest there be anyone sillently thinking this is an amazing coincidence, or not know how to articulate why it is not amazing at all, I will explain it here why it is not amazing (if it even happened):

    Just as I could articulate phenomenal odds of any set of daily mundane characteristics occuring at one time after the fact, it does not make it any more amazing that this son asked for this specific amount of cash that she won BEFORE it happened. While interesting, it is not amazing any more than most mildly amusing coincidences. This is because with the sheer number of lottery winners, say from over $100,000, it would not be surprising to note how many actually prayed or performed any superstitious act specifically to win the lottery.

    The reason this is merely interesting and not amazing is because we only have a ‘one time’ attempt (he did not pray any other time his mother played the lottery) and he asked for a specific amount (1 million dollars).

    So at most it’s ‘interesting’ because at some point it was almost bound to happen that someone would perform a one-time superstitious act and name a specific amount that is subsequently won. So dude might have converted for a reason as sound as because the tides go in, the tides go out.

    And it gets FAR less interesting if dude didn’t really mention specifically $1,000,000. But we’ll just take his word for it, right?

    Or that the extent of his reasoning for being an atheist was more than ‘it just doesn’t make sense’. That’s testable, if he is willing to discuss how this event trumped his reasons for knowing why the epistemology for belief in anything supernatural is profoundly flawed. But if he really understood the reasons not to believe, then…

    …It could be the case that the tremendous euphoria of winning life changing amounts of money will eventually wear off and he’ll realize it doesn’t make him ‘believe’ any more than before. Which means….

    … he may have set him self up for some grief as euphoria often makes us do and say some pretty stupid things. He may have boldly and emotionally announced how he was wrong, how he doesn’t understand it, etc. and that will make it even harder to ‘break it’ to his theistic friends/family, etc. Add ‘tears of joy’ and it’s even more embarrassing to the point it might be a life long secret that he realized he still doesn’t believe.

    For his sake, I hope he just wasn’t really a thinking atheist.

  28. Gill
    Posted May 29, 2011 at 4:55 am | Permalink

    Wonder how much of it she’ll give to charity?

    I’ve just had a car crash compensation cheque. 5% is going to Amnesty for the 50 years. That’s on top of my monthly donations.

  29. OliversArmy
    Posted May 29, 2011 at 5:11 am | Permalink

    I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. Matthew 19:23-24

    Sal, if Jesus had a hand in this it is because he hates you and your mother and wants to send you both to hell.

    • latsot
      Posted May 29, 2011 at 6:05 am | Permalink

      “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. Matthew 19:23-24″

      So… Religious teacher tells person with disposable income to dispose of it? I don’t suppose there was a collection plate anywhere about the place.

  30. Posted May 29, 2011 at 6:08 am | Permalink

    If true, I don’t hugely fault the guy… The odds of such a thing happening have got to be pretty far against, and plenty of people have believed false things as a result of incredibly unlikely (but ultimately spurious) data.

    Put it another way: If the only people who believed in God were the ones who won the lottery one day after first praying to win the lottery, I’d be more than comfortable with the amount of religion in the world.

  31. Jim Thomerson
    Posted May 29, 2011 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    There was a newspaper article about a lady down the road who has won three big lotteries. There was no mention of prayer in the article. I understand there are several people who have won multiple big lotteries. I wonder if there is any correlation between their religious practices and their success.

  32. Aratina Cage
    Posted May 29, 2011 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    No matter how sarcastic Sal was being earlier, it’s like he is pretending that asking Voldemort if he is real will actually get an answer. Sorry, but I think the newly converted, fresh-from-the-bank groveler at Radioactive Zombie Jesus’s mutant feet is either an idiot or taking his joke on his mother to a careless extreme. After all, the sheer number of people who have said that exact same thing and not won the lottery clearly refudiates the existence of God ;)

  33. Posted May 29, 2011 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    Everyone’s the big winner, that would be a miracle.

  34. jose
    Posted May 29, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
    (Matthew 19:24)

    I have founded reasons to believe it was actually Satan who made her win the lotto, not Jesus. Remember, greed is a deadly sin.

    • Neil
      Posted May 29, 2011 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

      That passage is for losers. For lotto winners, the eye of the needle is much bigger.

  35. Posted May 30, 2011 at 5:43 am | Permalink

    There is the joke (which actually has a deep philosophical meaning) about the chap who kept asking God to let him win the lottery. Weeks went by, he kept praying, but nothing happened. Finally a voice boomed down from the heavens: “You have to at least by a ticket!”

    • Sili
      Posted June 7, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Permalink


      Sorry – that’s what I get for not reading the whole thread.

      Stupid me.

  36. Chris Lamb
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 1:47 am | Permalink

    In other news… 10 million other people were disappointed.

    None gave up their faith.

  37. rohejo
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 3:36 am | Permalink

    Word is Xenu likes to play pranks by masquerading as Jesus…

  38. God
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 4:43 am | Permalink

    Why don’t you believe me!!!

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