Politics / Social Issues
I had never purchased a lottery ticket in my life. As an adult with a college education who earned a part-time MBA while working a stressful job, I believe that success is several parts hard work with a touch of luck. Is it possible to toil all one’s life, working hard, putting in hours, only to fall flat on one’s face and retire penniless? Yes it is. Just ask Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Antoine Walker. But mostly you make your own luck in this life, regardless of the hand you were dealt.
So why do people play the lottery? Because its fun, like going to Vegas and blowing $5k on a Caesar’s palace suite, a Wayne Newton show, prime rib buffets, and the blackjack tables with your college roommates from 10 years earlier? No. People play the lottery because they think they can win. The lottery gives false hope.
This week the Powerball lottery reached a jackpot of $1.5 billion dollars. Billion with a “B”! That has never before happened. History was upon us. Okay, okay, I need to admit that I did buy a ticket. Why did I buy it? Because I thought I might win? Perish the thought. I bought it because of peer pressure, plain and simple. Several of my work colleagues went during lunch to purchase tickets at the Kudo Beans, a sandwich shop in our office building. So I bought $20 worth of tickets. I was fully aware that my chances to win were 1 in 300 million. That I stood a greater chance of dying in a car crash on my way home that night. Or that I might get asked out by Salma Hayek, my high school crush. But then the funniest thing happened. I actually thought about winning the damned thing. What if? What if I ACTUALLY won? I’ll tell you what I’ d do. I’d quit my 9-5 gig and freaking buy property in the North Shore of Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands. That’s where my wife and I honeymooned….and I’ve been dying to return since. With $1.5 billion…..hell, I could live there and do whatever I damned well pleased. This, my friends, is called FALSE HOPE!
Like everyone else, I was up at 7am the next morning getting ready for work. What I learned from this $1.5 billion up for grabs fiasco is that the Powerball lottery gives false hope. Statistics show that mostly poor and uneducated folks regularly play the lottery. Wealthy people of education prefer to invest their money in stocks, bonds, and real estate. Maybe the difference is the educated understand statistics and know that 1 in 300 million means there is no chance they would ever actually win while the poor don’t care about statistics and enjoy thinking about “what if” and clinging to the false hope that playing the lottery generates in their lives.
There should be only three people who disagree with me here. The three people who actually won. They’d tell you that the hope is real. Let’s see how long they can go before they need new hope in their lives. Statistics, that annoying little word again, also show that most lottery winners end up broke. How’s that for false hope?