I know, I know. There is no justification for playing the lottery; the odds of winning are almost nil, you have to pay a mess of taxes on what you do get, and what you get will be a lot less than advertised. And yet, I still play once in a while. Like today.
Today the PowerBall is up beyond 250 million dollars. This is an awfully large number, and certainly one that could set me up pretty nicely for the rest of my life, but I don’t have a hard lower threshold for when I play. Nor do I always play when it reaches these huge sums – it may hit $400 million and I’ll blissfully go about my day without any thoughts of playing.
So why did I play today? Because I’m superstitious and a fool at times. It started simply enough – I randomly heard some people talking about how they need a winning ticket to quit their jobs. Then they mentioned the drawing on the news. They do this every day so this was less of a trigger and more of just a bridge until… a commercial for the PowerBall came on this evening. Three mentions in one day? I must play!
I’m self aware enough to realize this is the thinking of a fool. Of course they advertise the PowerBall more on drawing days. No, the commercial was not put there in my own parallel universe as a sign for me to play and win. My coworkers always talk about quitting their jobs!
Now, I knew all of this before I purchased the tickets. I knew it was bad math chasing a bunch of hooey. So why did I still play? Because the lottery is not just a game of chance, it’s a chance to dream and think. If you play it as rarely as I do (say 4 times a year), each time you play you’ll get another opportunity to dream a little dream. A chance to think about what you would really do if you did win.
Would you save it all? Give some of it to family or friends? Donate some? And if so, to whom?
I find the act of playing the lottery to be a very satisfying way to contemplate just what you would do if everything you could possibly hope would come true with your savings or investing or salary all came true with a few bouncing balls.
Would you really quit your job? If so, what does that say about what you’re doing for work? Should you change careers regardless if you wouldn’t love to do what you’re doing even if rich? And if you would keep working there do you really need to spend so much time worrying about retiring?
Everyone will have different answers to these questions. Usually be the time the drawing comes I’m so overwhelmed with these questions I actually hope not to win (well, kind of), and that makes me feel pretty good about what I’m doing right now.
When you add it all up, I’d be a fool not to play the lottery at least once in a while.
What are your thoughts? Do you play? Why, or why not?