I originally posted this column in January of 2021, back when we were having another super-convergence of lottery windfalls. Well, the Mega Millions is at an estimated $1.25 billion this Friday, so here I am again with a likely-useless ticket in my hand. We can do better! It’s time for us to finally get going on my better lottery plan for America. Refamiliarize yourself with it below:
I like keeping my money, so I don’t normally spend much of it at all on the lottery. My mother-in-law and I split a California Super Lotto Plus ticket for two dollars each week, just simply because winning $15 million would be neat, and if you don’t buy a ticket, you won’t have a 1 in 438,000,000 chance of winning. I also stand outside in thunderstorms trying to get hit by lightning, just to increase my chances.
Recently, however, I have been laying down four whole additional dollars at a time each week, buying tickets for both the Powerball and the Mega Millions games. That’s because the Powerball jackpot is estimated to be $730 million and the Mega Millions jackpot is up to $970 million.
That’s almost a billion just on the Mega Millions, which is also probably your odds of winning it. Still, mathematicians will tell you your odds drop infinitely if you don’t buy a ticket. (Mathematicians are theoretical number geeks, however, and this is real life, so in this case when they say “drop infinitely” they mean “stay exactly the same.”)
But here’s the really amazing thing about when these jackpots get so high – the next jackpot grows at a massive rate because so many new people like me start playing. For instance, the Mega Millions jackpot that myself and every other living soul in forty-seven states failed to win in yesterday’s draw was $865 million. The projected jackpot for the Friday draw – just three days later – is $970 million. People are going to spend $105 million in three days on tickets, just for this one lottery game.
No one won the Powerball jackpot on Saturday either, and we all spent $90 million on new tickets for tonight’s draw.
Just between those two games, we, as a nation (minus the three loser states that refuse to participate like a bunch of money-saving nerds), have raised $200 million in ticket sales.
I have a proposition for you. Let’s increase our odds dramatically.
Why let the state governments rake in all that money just to tell us that nobody won again?
“But, Smidge, the money goes to benefit the schools,” you might say.
Yeah, right. Let’s not kid ourselves, here. You just know that money, like every other dollar going to the government, gets funneled through someone’s brother-in-law’s law firm first for the “environmental impact study and resources report” on school spending allocation and inclusiveness, only to come out the other end in the form of a huge yacht for their mistress.
Let’s not let that happen again. She already has a fleet of yachts. And his other mistresses do too. They could start their own navy, for Pete’s sake. Let’s keep that money with us, shall we?
Here’s my plan: When no one wins those two games again, roughly one million of us are going to go out and spend two dollars on new tickets. Instead of doing that, I propose that you one million nice folks send me your two dollars. I will put those one million names in a, presumably, very large hat, and draw the name of the winner.
No complicated numbers to pick in a heavily-weighted scheme that is essentially impossible to win. We’ll have a guaranteed winner of $200 million. And your odds of winning skyrocket. (They skyrocket from non-existent to virtually none, but still, they skyrocket.) And we will all go to bed the night before the drawing knowing for sure that one of us is going to win a butt-ton of money.
And if you’d like to fool yourself into thinking that you are “doubling” your chances of winning by buying two tickets, feel free to send me four dollars. Just be aware that the mathematicians are laughing at you. (More than they were before.)
So, what do you say, intrepid gamblers of the forty-seven cool states? Let’s do this! Venmo me your two dollars and we’ll get this thing going.
One of us is about to be filthy, stinking rich!
See you soon,
Copyright © 2023 Marc Schmatjen
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