Someone please knock some sense into me.
In just a few moments I’m going to head up to 7-Eleven and spend $20 of my hard earned money in a futile effort to become a billionaire. You read that right – a billionaire – because the Powerball is now projected to be some unfathomable amount like $1.4 billion come Wednesday’s drawing.
Clearly I’m not alone, though, as the whole country has been swept up in “billionaire fever,” as average Joes like you and me head off to gas stations all over the U.S. and joke with the goth chick behind the counter that she just sold you the billion dollar ticket. As if she hasn’t heard that one before.
The psychological power of the lottery is so interesting to me because it stares reason right in the face and laughs its ass off. Take my wife for instance: last Thursday she sent me a text asking me if I’d stop and pick up a Powerball ticket. We never play the lottery and here’s my frugal wife suggesting that I stop at the nearest lotto retailer, reach into my wallet, pull out a $20 bill, wipe my ass with it, and then light the son of a bitch on fire. That’s because when you buy a lotto ticket you’re basically saying, “I have too much money, here, please take some of it away from me.”
What’s hilarious to me about this is that normal people like my wife see the lottery hit a record high like $800 million and decide at that point it’s worth getting in the game because, you know, just winning $5 million or $30 million, or $250 million isn’t worth the time. But once you get past that half billion mark, then it becomes interesting. I mean, if you win $230 million that’s only like $161 million after taxes. That’s barely enough to buy a private jet and a small island. And even then you’re spending the rest of your life living off Ramen Noodles.
But when you buy a billion dollar Powerball ticket what you’re actually buying is a daydream. That’s right, what you’re buying is the feeling you get knowing in the back of your mind that someone, somewhere is eventually going to win this thing. My wife said it best: “You can’t win if you don’t play.”
You also can’t win if you do play. Cause, you know, there’s a 1 in 292.2 million chance that you get the winning numbers. Everyone likes to say that you’re more likely to get hit by lightning than win the lotto. Actually, you’re more likely to get hit by lightning while riding a Bald Eagle. But no matter how much you argue the odds, lottery crazies like my wife like to point out that someone, somewhere has to win. And even though I know how ridiculous it is, even I can’t help but wonder every time I see that little ticket staring at me from behind the refrigerator magnet.
Truth be told I’ll be happy when this whole Powerball thing is over because I’m currently sick of listening to everyone talk about what they’re going to do if they win a billion dollars. Mostly this is because people aren’t capable of fathoming just how much money this is. One person I know said they were going to pay off their house, quit their job, and travel around the world. That’s awesome! Now what the fuck are you going to do with the other $998 million? Put it in your piggy bank? Even if you had it all in $100 bills you’d have almost 10 million pieces of paper to stick in it. You’d need to build a piggy bank so big it would cost $10 million to build and even then you’d still have $989 million to figure out what to do with.
Despite my cynicism, I’m still going to buy my ticket just to make my wife happy. But while I’m there I’m also going to buy a couple scratch off tickets. You know, because I’m the kind of guy that likes to work for my money.
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