Americans can’t stop playing the lottery

1 min read
Americans can’t stop playing the lottery

Americans have wagered hundreds of millions of dollars on lottery tickets just in the past two days, catapulting a U.S. lottery jackpot to more than $1 billion for only the fourth time ever.

Why it matters: Millions of people have bought a ticket, dreaming of what they would do with a post-tax lump sum estimated at more than $600 million.

Between the lines: The amount that stands to be won — even after taxes — is greater than the amount being wagered, thanks to the fact that no one has won the MegaMillions jackpot since April 12. It has been rolling over ever since.

  • Statistically, that means this drawing is a rare positive-sum game — if at least one person wins the jackpot. But that is far from certain.

Catch up quick: The lottery is played in 45 states, plus the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Out of each $2 ticket, roughly 35 cents goes to non-jackpot prizes, about 75 cents goes to fund the jackpot, and the remaining 90 cents goes to the government.

  • The chance of winning the jackpot — about 1 in 300 million — is statistically indistinguishable from zero. You’re much more likely to be eaten by a shark, or struck by lightning, or even killed by an asteroid.
  • Don’t bother buying two or more tickets: Ten times zero is still zero.

By the numbers: If 200 million $2 tickets end up being sold, then with 302,575,350 total combinations of numbers, there’s still only about a 50% chance that any of the tickets is going to hit the jackpot.

  • If you are lucky enough to win, you also have a roughly 50% chance that you’ll have to share the jackpot with at least one other person who chose the same numbers. (The $1.6 billion Powerball jackpot in 2016 was split three ways.)

Be smart: You’re not going to win the lottery. But that’s not the point. The point is that with your $2 you’re purchasing the dream of being able to win the lottery.

  • Fantasies of dynastic wealth are one of the few things you can buy with $2 these days — a price that hasn’t gone up since 2017.
  • The occasional dabble in the lottery can even save you money, if it scratches your get-rich-quick itch and means you’re less likely to gamble in meme stocks or cryptocurrencies.

The bottom line: Don’t feel guilty about spending $2 on playing the lottery this week. And if you want to keep the dream alive, simply don’t check your numbers!

Read More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Previous Story

What the proposed climate bill means for EV buyers

Next Story

Tech companies hit the brakes as slowdown looms

Latest from Blog