Eating Crow Ain't Easy - Powerball Update

On Wednesday I published a blog in which I facetiously ridiculed people who buy lottery tickets. Today I bought five Powerball lottery tickets. Of course, I tried to fool myself into thinking that I bought it only for Helen and merely enjoy providing her with an entertaining fantasy. But I must confess, there is more to my motivation than that. 

Of course, I wrote the first blog when the lottery prize was approaching a mere half-billion dollars. It's a bit harder to ignore a prize that is heading north towards a billion dollars. Here's what makes the ten bucks I will lose on the ticket worthwhile.

  • Helen frequently talks about what she would do if she ever has the good fortune to get a lot of unexpected money; she has a long list of friends and family who would have much easier lives with her generous help. A lot of needy strangers and abandoned animals would benefit as well.
  • Of course, she would share it with me and I now admit to enjoying the fantasy knowing full well that I will never see even 30 heads or tails in a row. But it's time for me to own my fantasy and eat crow.

The point is, lottery dreams are akin to reading fiction; we know it is not reality but the fact that someone somewhere eventually will realize a dream come true provides just enough reality to enjoy a little entertaining fiction.

Well, I need to get on with my day; have a crow to eat and lottery tickets to give to Helen. 

[BTW, the phrase "eating crow" dates back to a story about a dim-witted farmer written around 1850. Wikipedia notes that crow is not just terribly repugnant but is among the birds forbidden to be eaten according to Leviticus, and there begins a long list of eating distasteful things when one humbly acknowledges a mistake (eating: "your hat", "dirt", "ones words", and "crow".) ]

It's Powerball Night

I rarely buy lottery tickets but when I do, it is a gift to someone who gets entertainment from examining their numbers hoping to get rich. If the money spent on lotteries were to go to the benefit of the environment, animals or people in need, I probably would join in for the sake of charity. At least the money would not be wasted on unrealistic fantasies 

If you want to get a feel for why I don't play, take a coin and flip it until you get the same outcome (say, tails) several times in a row, then keep going hoping you continue getting tails. If you get heads on the ninth or tenth flip, you just lost on one lottery ticket. Now buy another "ticket" and try again. perhaps eventually you are astoundingly lucky and get 20 tails in a row but see heads on the 21st flip. Tear up that ticket and buy another.

If you keep flipping every two seconds without stopping to eat or sleep and heads never shows up in 15 years, on average you would win.

But if gambling entertains you, and you occasionally delight in hitting a $2 or $5 return, or seeing 3 of 6 winning numbers on your ticket, or fantasizing about what it would like to live without any financial constraints (after someone among the hundreds of millions of lottery buyers will occasionally win), don't let this pessimistic blog deprive you of those pleasures. In the meantime, I will enjoy spending my few dollars on a glass of wine knowing I will get the full benefit of the expense. And perhaps take in a free sunset as a bonus.

Best of luck to you. But don't forego your favorite beverage to buy one more ticket.