The poor tax in ticket form
I was engulfed by the media coverage and attention for Friday’s Mega Millions last week. I gave in to the hype and bought a ticket for the first time in my life.
Now lotto frenzy has come to an end, and if you played, you probably didn’t win.
If it makes you feel better, I didn’t win either.
It’s a heartbreaker, but we can’t be too disappointed, considering the odds of winning the big sum were one in 176 million.
It could’ve been worse though. One Las Vegas man spent $20,000 on lotto tickets, and, you guessed it, he also wasn’t one of the three winners. So looking at it like that, we actually didn’t do too badly.
As the seconds ticked away, and the clock slowly approached the drawing time, people across the country turned on their TVs and computers, hoping that by some miracle, the numbers on their $1 ticket would be announced.
However, we all know this is obviously foolish and didn’t honestly expect to win anything. Yet many of us still bought the ticket, which is curious.
Why is it that so many, including myself, participated in this self-imposed tax that contradicts everything we’ve learned about common sense? Skimming the syllabus of any probability course should be enough to convince us to put our dollar bills back in our wallets. Naysayers have tried to warn Americans not to do it, arguing that the lottery is evil, it’s a fatuous investment of a dollar, and we shouldn’t waste money.
But we still did. I guess this weekend our fantasies just got the best of us.
Although the chances are clearly not in our favor, the lottery is such an extravagant concept that there seems to be a degree of enjoyment in simply talking about it.
It’s nice to fantasize about what you would do with the winnings, especially because in a fantasy, long lost relatives and the Internal Revenue Service don’t exist. It’s your dollar, and even if there are smarter ways to spend your money, I wouldn’t be too hard on yourself for caving in and playing the game.
However, I’m not suggesting everybody go out and spend their paycheck on lotto tickets. It would make for some super crazy fun conversation, but in economic times like these, if you’re already in the hole, it’s in your better interest to keep that dollar for something more necessary.
I’m simply saying that if you want to, and you can afford it, then go ahead.
“You’re wasting your money,” says the guy with the Pepsi in his hand.
It’s not like buying a lotto ticket will damage your health. There are worse things you could do with that dollar.
I’ve never been a regular player of the lottery, every once in a while, spending a buck to entertain a fantasy can be fun, and there doesn’t seem to be too much wrong with that.
Lucas Sepulveda is a creative writing and media production junior and may be reached at [email protected]