Last week many across the country were riding the wave of a Powerball high, as the record-setting sum of $1.5 billion was finally claimed and the historic game came to a conclusion.
Being the first lottery jackpot to cross the $1 billion mark, it is likely that many who never bother with purchasing tickets made special trips to the store in a “why not” fashion.
Therein lies the whole nature of these lottery jackpots, the grand fantasies for a myriad of wishes. Outlets such as the New York Times are quick to start articles reminding readers that they have only a one in 292.2 million chance of winning, however the odds are never in one’s favor with the lottery.
Cynics of last week’s Powerball craze should keep in mind that the people purchasing lottery tickets have always been taking part in a gamble.
Much like pulling a lever on a slot machine, buying a lottery ticket invokes the fantasy of “what if” and all the wonderful objects the money could buy.
Granted there are the negative stories surrounding lottery winners. These individuals tend to already have issues, such as 2001 winner David Edwards, who was a drug addict before his $27 million jackpot and who remained addicted even with his riches.
If an individual has a problem such as addiction or is irresponsible before they win, then it should come as no surprise that they remain that way after they suddenly come into money.
The Powerball hype the nation saw last week was not about those select individuals who befall tragedy in their riches. Instead the excitement was over how incomprehensible the jackpot was.
The purpose of buying a ticket is to escape into the mansion one would buy or imagine what the seats feel like in that car they’ve always wished for.
Similar to a scratch-off ticket, the odds of that $1 purchase producing a profit are slim, but the joy of the gamble and the thrill of the reveal are the reasons people keep buying into the lottery.
There are hundreds of millions of people that will keep playing and continue to lose time and time again.
These people are the ones that keep the lottery alive, paying a small sum every week to allow grand wonders of a potential win to enter their fantasies.
So while it may seem absurd to have played the Powerball given the odds, it should be remembered that it is less about the winning and more about the pleasure in playing the bet.
After all, every lottery, regardless of the amount, is about winning more than one could ever imagine, whether that be millions of dollars – or even a billion.