The email box had a note from a public relations agent marked, of course, IMMEDIATE RELEASE — something that always makes you think of someone who had a lot of coffee 100 miles back and just found the highway rest stop — and it made an interesting claim: Minnesotans are the second luckiest people in the country.

Really? I don't believe in luck. There's chance, there's random combinations in an unpredictable complex system, there's happy accidents and bad breaks. But no luck. Your outcome will not be more "lucky" if you knock on salt or throw wood over your shoulder, or whatever superstitious people do.

The survey is based on things like the number of lottery winners. But I never win the lottery. I'll admit that this is partly ascribed to never playing the lottery.

But like a lot of people, the lure of a billion-dollar prize — or $140,233 after taxes — is alluring, and the purchase of a ticket is an invitation to dream. So perhaps I'll buy one, just to have a day where I spend imaginary money.

All relatives get a check. Their kids? That would be nice, so OK. Grandkids? Look, I'm not made of money. Well, I am, but OK, they get savings bonds.

Dearest closest friends get a check just for being companions all these years. Co-workers? Well, you wouldn't want to rub your fortune in their faces, but perhaps you'd throw a big goodbye party at a fancy restaurant, and enter on a litter borne by servants who parade you around the room while you throw gold coins. No, that's rubbing it in. Forget about the coins.

Another category for luck: life expectancy. I'm sure there are some people who hit a ripe old age despite doing everything wrong, but it's mostly choices and genetics. When they interview someone who hit 100 and ask for their advice, they never say, "Play the lottery so your accumulated unluckiness produces a surplus of luck in another part of your life." No, it's always: "A thimble of brandy and a cigar on Sunday."

A third category: lightning strikes. What happens if you're struck the day you win the lottery? Luck plus bad luck equals a luck void. If you're struck before you know that you won, that's a luck deficit. If you're struck then crawl to the convenience store to buy a winning ticket, that's luck-plus. If you die at an old age, then are struck by lightning and it shocks you back to life, that's double luck-plus — unless the shock of winning makes your ticker seize up. Complex thing, this luck.

The number of divorces also figures into our No. 2 status. I am keen to know how getting served with Splitsville papers is a roll of the dice. No one ever buys a divorce ticket, checks the numbers, and thinks, "Oh, dang, now I have to move."

In short, the luckiest Minnesotans are a couple, both 99, who won the lottery while sitting unscathed in an open field blasted by jagged bolts from the sky. What's their secret to a long life? Not being where that smoking tree stump stands, I guess.

As I said, I think it's all nonsense. I'm content to live a normal life in Minnesota, happily married, unbothered by random electricity. I don't believe in luck! But luck, apparently, believes in me. • 612-673-7858 • Twitter: @Lileks •