Issac Bailey

Myrtle Beach area luck: Horrific (and rare) shark attacks, million-dollar lottery winners, no Ferguson-like headlines

Emergency responders assist a teenage girl at the scene of a shark attack in Oak Island, N.C., on Sunday. Mayor Betty Wallace of Oak Island, a seaside town bordered to the south by the Atlantic Ocean, said that hours after the teenage girl suffered severe injuries in a shark attack Sunday a teenage boy was also severely injured. (Steve Bouser/The Pilot, Southern Pines, N.C. via AP) | Steve Bouser The Associated Press
Emergency responders assist a teenage girl at the scene of a shark attack in Oak Island, N.C., on Sunday. Mayor Betty Wallace of Oak Island, a seaside town bordered to the south by the Atlantic Ocean, said that hours after the teenage girl suffered severe injuries in a shark attack Sunday a teenage boy was also severely injured. (Steve Bouser/The Pilot, Southern Pines, N.C. via AP) | Steve Bouser The Associated Press

A confluence of rare events has hit the Myrtle Beach metro area recently.

Most of it has been good, though a recent high-profile event might overshadow everything else.

It’s little comfort to know that Americans are more likely to be killed by a cow than a shark after two young people lost parts of limbs during shark attacks while swimming in Brunswick County.

But it’s true.

On average, cows kill about 20 people a year, compared to 1 shark attack death annually, according to an analysis in the Washington Post.

Though it remains safe to swim in our oceans, statistics might not be able to outweigh the visceral fear scared up after two shark attacks happened about two miles and 80 minutes apart on Sunday.

Such headlines conjure up images of “Jaws” and threaten our love affair with the Atlantic Ocean. That matters because we don’t have an interstate to lure industry but do have 60 miles of beaches to attract millions of tourists every year.

By Monday afternoon, I was overhearing talk in a Surfside Beach Food Lion about “those shark attacks in Brunswick.”

Maybe it’s a good sign that grocery store conversation was casual rather hysterical. Maybe it means people understand the rarity of shark attacks. Even spiders kill more people than sharks.

The gruesomeness of Sunday’s attacks can’t be sugar-coated, though, because the lives of two young people have been forever changed.

Others in our area have seen their lives changed by rare events as well, but for the better, including a few who beat 5 million to 1 odds.

Since last July, Myrtle Beach has had three $1 million or $2 million lottery winners — more than any other area in South Carolina and more than Myrtle Beach had during the previous decade combined.

“In that same span of time Charleston, Florence and Summerville have each had two wins of $1 million-plus,” said S.C. Education Lottery spokeswoman Holli Armstrong. “Prior to this past year, the Myrtle Beach area has had only two other $1 million-plus winners since the lottery started in 2002. So you’ve certainly had a winning year.”

The area’s good luck on rare events doesn’t end there.

A man in Georgetown got two winning $500,000 tickets in June. A man won $200,000 in a North Myrtle Beach store, and there was a winning $200,000 ticket sold in Myrtle Beach on Thanksgiving Day.

In May, we avoided the kinds of negative headlines that have marred the images of places like Baltimore and Ferguson.

And though there was a national flare-up of negativity at a pool party — does any place have more pools than Myrtle Beach per capita? — it didn’t happen here.

“From time to time it seems a particular city or area will have a wave of wins,” Armstrong said. “Right now, all signs point to the Myrtle Beach area as riding a lucky streak.”

So don’t be afraid to dip your toes in the water.

Contact ISSAC BAILEY at ibailey@thesunnews.com or on Twitter @TSN_IssacBailey.

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