When you hear Julie Downs singing about the “La La Lottery” on those Maine State Lottery TV commercials, you may wonder how she was able to write such a catchy song about scratch tickets.

Well, she didn’t.

Downs is a Nashville-based songwriter and a backup singer for the popular country duo Brooks & Dunn. She wrote “La La Lottery” way before she ever heard of the Maine State Lottery.

“I wrote that because I used to get scratch tickets in my Christmas stocking, and to me there is no more hopeful feeling than being on the brink of something huge that might happen,” said Downs, 27, a Florida native. “Every day is a lottery; that’s what that song is about.”

The Maine State Lottery uses Downs prominently in the commercial, setting it up like a music video. There are shots of her in front of a microphone, and her name and the song title are written at the bottom of the screen.

The lottery is using the song as part of the campaign to celebrate its 35th anniversary, and as part of that, it’s promoting performances by Downs in Maine. She’ll perform Friday night at One Longfellow Square in Portland.

She won’t be doing just “La La Lottery,” either. She’s got plenty of songs. Not all are as bubbly, but all showcase her distinctive voice and phrasing.

Downs said she was happy to get the lottery gig and to tour in support of it as a way to get her songs out there.

Her “La La Lottery,” if you listen to the words, is indeed about taking a chance on life, not just taking a chance on a ticket:

“Forget about the odds/ Forget about the cost for a minute/ And think about the if/ The what if this is it/ The big ticket/ One random twist of fate/ It happens every day/ But if you want to win, you’re gonna have to play.”

Downs also does commercial work, sometimes writing a song specifically for a script she’s given. In this case, her agency found that Maine State Lottery was looking for a song, and Downs had a song that fit perfectly.

What are the odds?

What’s more, it was the commercial maker’s idea to make the commercial look a little like a music video, although Downs’ resume as a performer made that fairly easy. She said she didn’t have to change one word in the song.

Downs says she’s not trying to parlay her lottery commercial into a solo performing career. Her career goal is to make a living as a songwriter. In the meantime, she works as a backup singer for “the steady paycheck.”

“I’m a good singer, not an amazing singer, so I see myself primarily as a songwriter,” she said. “If I need to book a gig here and there to get interest in my songs, I will.”

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

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