Donate to a charity instead. Let me explain.
The majority of responses to my PowerBall description/warnings yesterday have been, “If you don’t play, you can’t win.” Unfortunately, I know many, many people are buying many lottery tickets, way more than they should.
OK. For almost everyone, there’s little harm in spending $2 on a ticket for the entertainment, but don’t expect to win, and don’t buy multiple tickets unless you can afford to do without every dollar you spend. I worry about those who are “investing” tens or hundreds of dollars on any lottery.
Two of my school colleagues captured the idea of a lottery yesterday with their analogies,
Steve: Suppose you go to the beach and grab a handful of sand and bring it back to your house. And you do that every single day. Then your odds of winning the powerball are still slightly worse than picking out one particular grain of sand from all the sand you accumulated over an entire year.
Or more simply put from the perspective of a lottery official,
Patrick: Here’s our idea. You guys all throw your money in a big pile. Then, after we take some of it, we’ll give the pile to just one of you.
WHY YOU SHOULDN’T BUY MULTIPLE TICKETS:
For perspective, a football field is 120 yards long, or 703.6 US dollars long using the logic of my last post. Rounding up, that would buy you 352 PowerBall tickets. That means investing $704 dollars would buy you a single football field length of chances in 10.5 coast-to-coast traverses of the entire United States. There’s going to be an incredibly large number of disappointed people tomorrow.
MORAL: Even an incredibly large multiple of a less-than-microscopic chance is still a less-than-microscopic chance.
BETTER IDEA: Assume you have the resources and are willing to part with tens or hundreds of dollars for no likelihood of tangible personal gain. Using the $704 football example, buy 2 tickets and donate the other $700 to charity. You’ll do much more good.