Learning a Lesson From the Mega Millions Jackpot

The lottery frenzy is starting to die down now that we’ve all heard three people won the largest jackpot in the history of the world.  I’m sure those three people haven’t slept much in the past couple days but I’m also sure there are plenty of people that didn’t win, that haven’t slept much either.

In the build up to last Friday’s drawing, every news team in the US was frantically running around from mini mart to mini mart looking for those people that were buying tickets so that they could ask them questions about what they’d do if they won.  I didn’t hear one news team ever question the purchaser as to whether they were wasting their money with the odds so stacked against them.  I suppose they didn’t want to be a “Debbie Downer” when everyone was having so much fun thinking about what they’d do with all that money.

I bought $5 worth of tickets (for only about the third or fourth time in my life) just for fun.  I had to explain to my daughter that we really weren’t going to win.  Unfortunately, at 8 years old, she thought if we’d bought a ticket, that must mean we were sure to win.  If only it worked that way.  I checked the numbers soon after the drawing was held only to find that I didn’t match ONE number on any of the 5 chances I had.  Geesh.  It’s actually kind of funny.  As I was checking my ticket and realizing I hadn’t matched any numbers, I immediately started thinking about some of the people I’d seen on the news.  Many of the people buying tickets were clearly not wealthy, and in fact, actually looked quite poor.  The reality was that they probably couldn’t have afforded to throw even $5 towards the lottery.  I especially thought about the scruffy, dirty man that the news had stopped and interviewed as he came out of a mini mart with a stack of tickets.  He exclaimed, “My buddy and I just bought $700 worth of tickets!!!”.  That poor bastard threw $700 away for a 1 in 175M+ chance at winning.  Based on his appearance and the way he was talking, it seemed likely that this man had just thrown his rent money away for the month.  I’m betting he hasn’t slept much more than the people that did win the jackpot.