Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Big Money Dreaming

The lottery grand prizes have almost reached an amount worth playing. MegaMillions is around $189 million and PowerBall is at $200+ million.

If no one wins this week, I may have to go out and buy a ticket. This is my lottery buying ticket philosophy: I never buy more than 2 chances at a time. I pick the numbers for one, and I let the computer pick for the other one.

I don't understand people who spend hundreds of dollars on lottery tickets. My math skills are not all that great, but my understanding of probability is that if you buy no tickets, you have zero chance of winning the grand prize. If you buy one ticket, you have a one in [let's say] 200 million chance of winning the prize. Pretty long odds, but better than zero.

If you buy 50 tickets, you don't reduce the odds to 1 in 4 million (4 million x 50 = 200 million). Instead, you have a 1 in 199,999,950 chance of winning. You haven't really improved your odds all that much, AND you are out $50 rather than $1.

So, I spend $2 on each lottery about every 6 months or so [$24/year]. One of my friends always says, "Steven, you are throwing your money away."

I disagree. I look at it as entertainment. One could also say you are throwing your money away if you go to a movie or a baseball game. Sure I could invest my $24 worth of lottery tickets each year, but I'd be missing out on the chance to dream how I will spend my winnings.

I suppose I could dream without purchasing a ticket, but actually holding the ticket in my hand, knowing that there is a tiny, far-off glimmer of hope that I might* win, helps to make the fantasy more fun.

1 comment:

  1. that's my philosophy as well. spending $6 a week is a whole lot less than 2 tickets to a movie, add in popcorn and those hideous licorice candies that bran likes, then there's bus fare for the two of us...it adds up to nearly $50 for one movie. or we could spend the $6 a week and entertain ourselves with the very free realestate guide and the ink of a pen.

    dreaming is very cheap entertainment and the whole family can become involved.