Mixed Feelings on Mega Millions

Earlier this week the nation got wrapped up in the second biggest Mega Millions jackpot in history. With $636 million at stake, lottery fever infected many of my friends and family. No matter what I did, I couldn’t escape the constant media coverage about the outrageous amount of money up for grabs.

I don’t play the lottery. I take one look at the 1 in 258.9 million odds and don’t even bother. I don’t need to be told the unrealistic, crazy, outlandish events that are more likely to happen to me than winning Mega Millions. That 1 in 258.9 million line stands alone. Enough said.

Don’t be offended by me if you get excited by playing the lottery but I find games like Mega Millions incredibly boring. You purchase a ticket, let it collect dust for a couple days, and then check your phone or newspaper to see if you won. Many times the numbers you chose aren’t even in the same solar system as the winning numbers. Quite often, there isn’t even a winning ticket sold. Why try to win a prize when there is a good shot that the prize won’t even be awarded?

I have people close to me who have defied the odds and actually won jackpots. My brother won a $25,000 jackpot on a card game (and managed to squander it all in about a year) and my great uncle once won a sizeable chunk of cash in a local and much smaller lottery game. But these events don’t entice me at all to play Mega Millions. I think with my brother and uncle already collecting on large sums of money and beating the odds, they have removed any and all chances that anyone in my bloodline will ever get lucky again. Besides, the odds that my brother and uncle overcame pale in comparison to what it would take to win Mega Millions. I am pretty sure that the chances are greater for them to win their respective jackpots fifteen more times in 2014 on the same fifteen days of that year than the chances are of ever producing the winning Mega Millions ticket. And by the way, my great uncle is dead.

I don’t understand why people will wait in long lines for hours on end to purchase these tickets either. Or I don’t understand why people pull their hair out trying to come up with the numbers they will choose. Or I don’t understand why people throw away $100 on something that is less likely to happen than getting struck by lightning four different times in a day.

However, I must admit that this week I actually heard a sane reason for purchasing a Mega Millions lottery ticket. While watching a news report they talked to a lady who walked up to a convenient store counter and simply purchased a ticket. She wasn’t wearing a ridiculous lucky hat, she didn’t spend her whole paycheck, and she didn’t harass the worker on if the ticket would be a winner or not. She was just a normal person participating in Mega Millions. When the reporter asked her why she plays, she responded in this way:

“Because it lets me dream.”

You know what? I can live with that. I can understand that. To close your eyes and to think about winning that jackpot or to make the time go faster while traveling this holiday season and think about what you would do with $600+ million dollars is legitimate. It is a fun fantasy and a good way to escape. Even though I am still too cheap and realistic to fork over the cash for a ticket, I would say that the $1 price that people pay to dream is worth it. There are too many negative things in this world that we can allow to overtake our minds. Even though it is the long shot of all long shots, I can’t overly criticize something that gives someone else a little bit of relief from the rigors of life. Don’t Blink.

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