My Photograph is Being Used Without My Permission and Unpaid, In an Ad Featured on (Or, “My Face is Clickbait for the Lotto, Even Though I Don’t Believe in Playing the Lotto”)

Apparently, I have the face an everyday Joe who happens to be smart enough to figure out how to win the Lotto 7 times.

This morning a friend from college sent me a screen shot of an article on ESPN, asking me this question:

“Hey – I took this screen shot at the bottom of an ESPN article. Is this you? And if it is, did you know your likeness is being used?”

The answer is yes, that’s my picture; and no, I did not know my photo was being used to promote a story about the Lotto.

It’s very easy to prove that’s a picture of me above the clickbait article, “A 7-Time Lotto Winner Reveals the Big Mistake You Make When Playing the Lotto”.

They simply cropped the title card from my 6th most popular YouTube video, “What a #1 Guard Buzz Cut Looks Like With a Receding Hairline”.

I published that video back on December 20th, 2015, and since then, it has received over 49K views.

So I laboriously scrolled until I found the article. When I clicked on it, the actual article does not feature my picture; and title of the article changes to simply, “How to Increase Your Chances of Winning the Lotto”.

However, I was unable to share the article from my phone:

It comes up as an invalid website when you search that or any of the content from the article.

So it’s as if the click-bait article was deliberately coded in a way that it can not be Googled; the only way to get to it is to click on the ad from a 3rd party.

Some major irony in me being forced against my knowledge or permission to be the face of click-bait, is that I fundamentally do not believe in playing the lottery.

For me, it’s not a moral issue. Instead, it’s common sense one. I see the lottery as “a tax for people who are bad at math.” This concept is only reinforced in movies like Casino and The Godfather, Part II.

While I quickly admit I am definitely bad at math, which is why I’m naturally more skilled in writing and communication, I am a follower of Dave Ramsey. Therefore, it goes against my identity to play the Lotto.

I definitely do not endorse the lottery, nor did I win the lottery 7 times.

However, I do own the rights to the photo, and when you click on my YouTube video, you’ll see that I published it on December 20th, 2015; nearly 2 and a half years ago. It’s time stamped.

This reminds me of an article I read back in November 2017, where a photographer’s photo of VHS cassettes were stolen, to be used as part of Netflix’s Stranger Things boxed set.

It also reminds me of another article I read yesterday about how SnapChat’s value dropped $577 million in value when Rihanna’s picture was used without her permission in a tasteless ad.

Here’s a convenient side by side comparison proving that’s my picture; the ESPN ad on the left, and my YouTube channel on the right:

So what do I do now? Does ESPN have any responsibility in this? Now that I have tweeted this story to them, they are officially aware that one of their sponsors is using my image against my will; and even worse; not crediting me or paying me for my image, which is part of the reason people are clicking on the lotto story.

Or is it left to me to go on a wild goose chase, in an attempt to find the 3rd party of a 3 party who is recycling this lotto story, yet not making it possible to directly find their website.

After all, TopLifestyleTips, the website named below my photo in the ad, is not an existing website. Here’s what happens when you Google TopLifestyleTips along with A 7-Time Lotto Winner Reveals the Big Mistake You Make When Playing the Lotto.

Under normal circumstances, that would bring up the existing article right away. The company responsible for using my photo without my permission, or at least any compensation, is doing a great job of hiding within plain sight.

Until then, I feel trapped in a Black Mirror episode, where my image is perpetually used to promote an idea I am fundamentally against, and am not even paying paid to participate in.

The Donate A Photo App By Johnson & Johnson

Here’s a quick note to spread some awareness about the “Donate A Photo” app by Johnson & Johnson.

For every photo you share, Johnson & Johnson donates money to a cause you want to help – which does things like fix up a public park, get medicine for an infant, or help kids play sports safely. You get to choose the cause you want to help, Johnson & Johnson makes it happen.

Here’s a quick video that explains it:

You can donate one photo a day, every day. With a photo a day, you’ll make a difference by raising money and awareness for causes you care about. Share with your friends and you’ll help your causes meet their goals faster.

Girl Up

One photo helps a girl in Liberia go back to school

with Girl Up

59 girls went back to school
Goal: 58
Save the Children

One photo helps a newborn breathe

with Save the Children

Thanks for taking a minute to check it out!

Facebook is a Middle School Talent Show

I put together the top five reasons why facebook seems dull, come lately.

I have been on facebook since April 2005, going on five years now. Back then, in a simpler time, the site was only for college students. No quizzes. No lists. Just the facts. An Atari version of what we now know facebook to be.

And it was fine except for one thing: I could only be friends with people from college. No family. No friends that weren’t currently enrolled in a college. I wanted more “friends”. I wanted to catch up with the cast of characters that made up my entire life. I wanted to collect them.

So as facebook grew from a dorm room project into a million dollar operation and then to a billion dollar business, I got my wish. Plenty of “friends”. Not restricted to colleges.

Since 2005, I have watched facebook defeat Myspace in a tortoise versus the hare race, turning Myspace into nothing more than a creepy old house that no one wants to go inside of anymore. Facebook has for all practical purposes become the new e-mail, the new photo album, and the new substitute to actually calling people on the phone.

Facebook is the undisputed champion. Yet a few nights ago one of my actual real life friends asked in a status update on facebook if he was the only person that thought the site seems like it’s getting dull.

I agree with him. But here’s the thing. It’s not really facebook’s fault. Part of it is us and part of it is our “friends”. Sort of like a middle school talent show. I can’t blame the school if the entertainment itself isn’t good. Sometimes there are more baton twirlers than garage rock bands.

I have compiled the top five reasons why facebook seems dull, come lately:

1) Random friends we barely remember from grade school aren’t quite as interesting as we gave them credit for in our nostalgic minds. They grew up. They have families. And we’ve got nothing to say to them. Because everything we would want to know is there on the info tab on their profile.

2) Those same random people tend to be the ones who constantly do those annoying quizzes and games. Yes, I do hide the quizzes and games on my Live Feed. And yes, I could just delete those people altogether. But I don’t. Somehow I would feel guilty. Their only crime was making me look at the new pig they got for their farm.

3) The Status Update option causes many people to think that the rest of the world sees them as a celebrity. There are enough reality shows that we are ashamedly addicted to. We don’t need another one that tells us when our lab partner from our 9th grade science class is making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Or that it made him thirsty. And we definitely don’t need him doing the most cliché thing on facebook status updates: On Monday, saying, “Ugh, I hate Mondays. On Wednesday, “Hey ya’ll, it’s Hump Day!” And Friday, “TGIF”. Sunday night, “Ugh, it’s almost Monday again.” Thanks Sir Idiot, that really added a lot of value to my life.

4) Just like Wikipedia and YouTube, we eventually milk facebook for all its worth. There’s nothing like those first three fascinating months of using facebook. But after reading the profiles and seeing the pictures of everyone we actually care about, the only thing really left to do is come back in a few weeks when they all have new pictures and info.

5) The friends we regularly communicate with on facebook are coincidently our real life friends anyway. Sometimes it’s actually easier just to send a facebook message than to send a text or find a convenient time to call. We get distracted by all our facebook friends and their shenanigans but ultimately it comes down to the true core of why we like facebook in the first places. Our actual friends and family.

Like boy bands, social networking websites have an average lifespan of five years. But I see facebook as the exception. After all, facebook gives us the creative control to hide, delete, and regulate the content we see in front of us. For us all to abandon facebook the way we did Myspace, it would take a social networking website that is substantially better than everything facebook currently is and offers.

And I know for me, it took almost five years to get nearly 700 “friends”. I’d hate to start that process all over again.

What kind of praying mantis are you?