SACRAMENTO -- The advertisement was meant to help brand a new California lottery game, featuring a "Lady Luck" character in a leather jacket bestowing good fortune on a young man playing a scratch-off ticket by smacking him across the face.
California Lottery Commission spokesman Russ Lopez said the spot, airing on TV and streaming online, was supposed to be funny: "You're being struck by Lady Luck."
But some women lawmakers in the state Legislature weren't laughing. They sent a letter to the commission after the ad drew negative comments on Facebook and asked that it be taken down. The commission complied on Thursday.
"This commercial not only portrays women in a poor light - by perpetrating violence - but also endorses the act of violence itself," State Sen. Noreen Evans and Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, Democrats who lead the Legislative Women's Caucus, wrote in a letter sent Wednesday to Lottery Director Robert O'Neil.
In the ad, a woman selects a picture of a young man from a collection of photographs and sets out through a darkened city to find him.
She walks past a bus shelter and the light comes on, allowing a commuter to read. She enters a bowling alley and passes a man throwing a gutter ball, which then swerves into the lane and becomes a strike. She then approaches the young man from the photograph, who is playing a Black Scratcher, and gives him a roundhouse slap on the left cheek.
As she walks away, the man punches the air and shouts, "I won!"
Lopez said he did not know how much the commission, which is headed by four men, paid for the "struck by luck" ad because the marketing staff was not in the office late Thursday afternoon.
In a telephone interview, Evans said she was disgusted that the commission did not see the absurdity of raising money for public schools with an ad that glamorizes violence.
"Violence shouldn't be a marketing gimmick for state agencies," the Santa Rosa lawmaker said.
Lopez said the commission moved swiftly to address the criticism because it wants the focus on the new game, not the controversy. On Thursday, it began replacing the spot with another in the "Luck has a new look" campaign. The new ad ends with the woman blowing the man a kiss.